Washington, D.C. – To celebrate Women’s History Month and to honor the contributions women have historically made in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) introduced a bill to expand opportunities for young women to pursue careers in STEM, and ensure the nation can continue to compete in the global economy.
“What better way to commemorate the lives of influential American women, such as Barbara McClintock and Diane Fossey, than putting forth legislation to give other young women and girls the chance to explore the endless opportunities within STEM fields,” said Congressman McNerney. “Women make up almost half of the American workforce, but only 24 percent of jobs in STEM fields. It’s simple math. When women succeed, we all succeed.”
H.R. 5136, the Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2018, would establish a program at the Department of Education to increase female students’ participation through access to STEM education and vocational counseling. The GIRLS-STEM program would provide grants to local educational agencies to develop plans that would encourage young women to study STEM, educate students’ parents about STEM opportunities for their children, provide training and mentoring opportunities for students, and prepare secondary students for college STEM programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration Office of the Chief Economist (OCE), overall recipients of undergraduate degrees are roughly the same when it comes to women and men. However, women only account for about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. Additionally, OCE notes that women with STEM degrees are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation.
“In addition to encouraging girls to directly study STEM, the legislation addresses issues in the educational ecosystem which impact the choices they make, such as providing professional development for teachers and counselors that includes eliminating gender bias in the classroom,” said Janet Koster, Executive Director and CEO of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). “Studies repeatedly show that biases in teachers and educational personnel make them less likely to encourage young girls to pursue STEM subjects.
In addition to AWIS, the GIRLS-STEM Act of 2018 is also supported by:
- Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)
- National Alliance for Partnerships for Equity (NAPE)
- Advance CTE
- The National Center for Technological Literacy
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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.