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Panel speakers: Education reform can empower women

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Speaking at a women’s leadership conference Monday, civil rights activist Linda Chavez praised Arizona’s success in empowering women but said more can be done.

“I’d like to see more women in science, I’d like to see more women in math and engineering … and I’d like to see more women working in the computer industry because this is the wave of the future,” Chavez said.

Chavez said education reform will play a large role in increasing the number of women in those fields.

Making college more affordable will provide more opportunities, she said while speaking as a panelist at the “Women on Deck: Success in Politics and Business” conference.

Despite the need for change, Chavez feels Arizona and the Western United States is leading the way when it comes to empowering women.

Chavez, an author who also sits on several non-profit boards, pointed out that Arizona has produced numerous important and influential women, from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the last three Arizona governors: Jane Dee Hull, Janet Napolitano and Jan Brewer.

The conference was hosted by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar. Participants included representatives from government, business and other organizations.

Gosar said the panel discussion gives a podium to those that are most affected by the issue of women’s rights and empowerment.

“Let’s listen to women … about business, about being in rural or downtown,” he said. “Sometimes there’s great suggestions that don’t come out of a congressman’s mouth, they come out of regular people.”