WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, introduced the bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act alongside Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The bill would create and expand upon STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for young children, including new research grants to increase the participation of girls in computer science. In the House, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN) – respectively, the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology – are introducing companion legislation to the bipartisan Rosen bill.
“It is so important for young children, especially our girls, to be introduced to opportunities available to them in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Senator Rosen (D-NV). “As a computer programmer, I faced adversity in what has long been considered a male-dominated field and I’m working to break down those barriers for our current and future generations. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that our children are prepared with the education necessary to succeed in a 21st-century economy while also taking steps to close the gender gap in STEM. I will continue to be an advocate for investing in STEM education initiatives so that we are better equipped to address our changing economic and national security needs.”
“Technology and the tech industry provide so many opportunities for students and workers to pursue jobs and contribute to shaping our economy right here at home in West Virginia and in communities across the country,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “By finding ways to introduce students to STEM skills and knowledge at an early age, we can help them better learn to take risks, solve problems, and build confidence—especially among young women and girls. I’m proud to team up with my colleagues to reintroduce this important bipartisan legislation so we can help young minds realize their incredible potential, inspire them to pursue careers in critical industries, and empower them to follow their dreams.”
“If we want to continue to lead the world in STEM, we have to be serious about getting more women and girls in STEM fields,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Our bill will help get to the core of why the gender gap exists in STEM careers and help us build a stronger workforce.”
“Instilling a passion for science at a young age is critical for a child’s long-term STEM education and overall attitude toward learning,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “The technology industry is growing at an unprecedented pace, and the Building Blocks of STEM Act will help to address the need for computer skills while also working to close the existing gender gap in this field. By allocating funding to science initiatives for young children and computer science education for young girls, we can fill a vacancy in the workforce and set students up for success in their futures.”
“Nevada is the Innovation State, yet it can’t reach its full potential without women. I’m proud to introduce legislation with Senator Rosen that directs research into the factors that deter our young girls from pursuing an education in various sectors including technology, engineering and computer science,” said Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV). “The Building Blocks of STEM Act is an important step toward encouraging young girls and providing them the support they need to become future leaders in science and technology. I urge my colleagues to pass this legislation so that we can harness the full potential of our nation and ensure the full participation of women in STEM industries.”
“I’m proud to join a bipartisan group to help introduce the Building Blocks of STEM Act,” said Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE). “This bill would ensure more young girls can pursue opportunities in computer science education and increase STEM opportunities for elementary-aged children. With the passage of this bill, we can pave the way for more women trailblazers in tech and leaders in science who will make great contributions to our country and the world. #BridgingtheGap”
“I am so excited to join Congressman Baird of Indiana to introduce my first bill as a Member of Congress, the Building Blocks of STEM Act,” said Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI). “This bill helps ensure that our children are prepared to fill the jobs of tomorrow by directing public resources to study opportunities for early childhood STEM education and strategies to encourage girls to engage in STEM & computer science.”
“I’m proud to partner with my colleagues in the House and Senate on this important bi-partisan legislation. As one of only two members of Congress with a PhD in science, I understand how important it is to start children off on the right foot, by teaching STEM concepts and principles at an early age,” said Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN). “Equally important is ensuring that we get more girls involved in the STEM fields, so that we have as many people as possible contributing to the knowledge base of our society. Hoosiers know that to grow as a nation, we need everyone involved.”
“Ensuring that the lifelong benefits of early and consistent exposure to STEM fields reaches girls is critical to America’s long term technological, economic, and security interests,” said Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “As single largest girl-serving, girl-led leadership program in the country, Girl Scouts’ STEM programs reach more girls in more places than any other organization. We are proud to support Senator Rosen and her cosponsors’ Building Blocks of STEM Act to make funds available for research and programming to increase girls’ engagement in STEM.”
“Despite significant strides women are making in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science fields, barriers to gender equity still exist. This is particularly true for girls, especially girls of color,” said Kimberly Churches, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). “The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act takes important steps toward identifying systematic barriers and biases affecting young girls in STEM and computer science. AAUW commends Senator Rosen for her leadership on this critical issue and looks forward to continue working together to ensure equity in STEM education for all women and girls.”
“Thank you Senators Rosen and Capito for introducing the Building Blocks of STEM Act,” said Craig Albright, Vice President of Legislative Strategy of BSA The Software Alliance. “Making STEM education more widely available and encouraging the inclusion of underrepresented groups means more children will develop an interest in STEM and will help ensure the jobs of the future are available to the entire population.”
BACKGROUND: Studies have found that children who engage in scientific activities from an early age develop positive attitudes toward science and are more likely to pursue STEM expertise and careers later on. Last Congress, Rosen introduced similar legislation to focus National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM education programming on young children and to award grants to encourage young girls to pursue computer science learning. The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act (H.R. 3397), introduced in the 115th Congress by then-Representative Jacky Rosen and Representative Steve Knight (R-CA), would direct NSF to more equitably distribute funding for early childhood education in its Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which seeks to enhance the learning and teaching of STEM and address the immediate challenges that are facing PreK-12 STEM education. Currently, the Discovery Research PreK-12 program focuses the majority of its research on students in middle school and older. This year’s Senate bill also includes Rosen’s bipartisan Code Like a Girl Act (H.R. 3316) from the 115th Congress, which would direct NSF to award research grants to increase understanding of the factors that contribute to the participation of young girls in STEM activities and to develop interventions in pre-K and elementary school classrooms to increase the participation of young girls in computer science. Last Congress, Rosen’s combined package of STEM education bills unanimously passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate.
The Building Blocks of STEM Act is endorsed by Girl Scouts of the USA, Save the Children Action Network, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), National Organization for Women, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS),Girls, Inc., BSA The Software Alliance, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Code.org.