More than 500 women gather to promote careers in higher education

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) According to the U.S. Department of Education, less than 5 percent of college professors are women of color. In Blacksburg, a conference is being held trying to change those numbers.

Bianca Holman/WDBJ7

The conference was designed to create a support system, encouraging more women to rise the ranks of academia.

"The opportunity to come together, almost 500 to think about the shared experience, to share their stories with others, to feel empowered and connect is the purpose of the conference," said Menah Pratt-Clark, Faculty Women of Color in the Academy.

The empowerment is why some decided to attend for the first time.

"It's empowering I think women a a whole for us to connect and fellowship and be there to support one another it's a wonderful opportunity," said Shania Clinedinst a conference attendee.

During the two-day conference, women participate in workshops and hear from Virginia' Tech's own Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni.

One organizer said she's got lots of feedback through the years, but there is one comment that sticks out the most.

"This conference saved my life that is a constant refrain, I didn't know that I was not alone, I'm so excited to be part of a community, to know that I have support, I can persist to continue this journey," Pratt-Clark said.