WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, announced that her bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act has been signed into law by the President. Rosen introduced the bill with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) earlier this year.
“I couldn’t be prouder that this bipartisan piece of legislation that I’ve introduced is now law” said Senator Rosen. “This marks a massive leap forward for the opportunities that young girls will have in science, technology, engineering, and math. As a former computer programmer, I introduced this bipartisan bill to help break down the gender barriers that I faced as a woman in STEM for current and future generations. I will continue working in Congress on forward-thinking legislation that equips our students with the tools they need to succeed in their scientific and technological pursuits.”
“For young women across the country, this bipartisan bill represents increased opportunities to explore STEM fields,” said Senator Capito. “As more tech companies invest in West Virginia, I want to make sure our workforce is ready to meet the challenges of this industry. I was proud to join my friend and colleague Senator Rosen in introducing this bill, and I’m proud to see President Trump sign it into law.”
“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.
In March, Rosen introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Building Blocks of STEM Act, S. 737, 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.
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), Code.org, BlackRidge Technology, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Third Way, Center for Excellence in Education (CEE), CompTIA, TechNet, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Common Sense Kids Action, ISACA, Girls Who Code, and Microsoft.