WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) launched the Senate’s first Women in STEM Caucus, a new bipartisan group that will work to advance women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and math education and careers. The caucus will provide a forum for discussion and legislative collaboration about how to expand access to STEM education for women and increase women’s participation in STEM-related fields. November 8 is National STEM Day.
According to recent data from the U.S. Census, women — who make up nearly half of the entire American workforce — are making gains but are still “vastly underrepresented” in the STEM workforce, holding less than one-third of all STEM jobs.
“We have an important role to play in making STEM education and careers more accessible for women, which is why Senator Capito and I are proud to launch the Senate’s first Women in STEM Caucus,” said Senator Rosen. “I know the career opportunities that are available with STEM education, and I’m committed to helping more women, particularly women of color, enter and succeed in these exciting fields. This bipartisan caucus will bring together diverse voices to develop and promote policies and programs that support women and girls in STEM. We will also raise awareness on how women’s underrepresentation in STEM classes and jobs limits the United States from achieving our full economic potential and fully addressing some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.”
“STEM fields are where the in-demand jobs are right now, and it’s where they will be in the future. These are jobs in industries that are critical to our economy, will help our states and country as a whole grow,” said Senator Capito. “However, as a former educator and college advisor, I have seen firsthand how young women often do not consider STEM education for career paths. I’m proud to team up with my colleague—and former computer programmer—Senator Rosen to launch this caucus, which will help promote policies and other efforts that will increase opportunities for young students to engage in STEM fields. Inspiring our young women to rise up and reach their potential is so important, and I’m excited to be a part of this partnership that will help continue the momentum we’ve started.”
“The Society of Women Engineers is so pleased that Senators Rosen and Capito Moore are once again showing their support for women in STEM by establishing the bipartisan Senate Women in STEM Caucus,” said Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO of the Society of Women Engineers. “The issues females face in the STEM workforce are plentiful and complicated: identifying and nurturing talent and interest in STEM subjects early; keeping females pursuing study in STEM fields safe and supported; ensuring that pathways to STEM careers are varied and accessible; and, retaining much-needed STEM talent by recognizing and addressing the challenges women in the STEM workforce face, to name a few. This new Caucus will shed light on these issues and the policies that can address them.”
“To advance innovation, America needs talent, including women and other underrepresented groups,” said Lucinda Sanders, CEO and co-founder of the National Center for Women & Information. “For each woman or member of an underrepresented group who is unprepared or discouraged from full preparation and participation in STEM and computing, America’s future economy and security are weakened. That’s why the formation of the Women’s STEM Caucus is such welcome news.”
“As the leading society for women in the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics actively works to support women and underrepresented groups in STEM fields,” said Kathryn Leonard, President of the Association for Women in Mathematics. “The Women in STEM Caucus would provide a bipartisan forum to discuss and prioritize ways to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, particularly women from marginalized racial and ethnic groups. We need to draw on all our available talent to contribute to innovation and research in STEM so the US can continue its leading position in science and technology. We appreciate that Senators Rosen and Capito recognize that diverse voices and perspectives in STEM are necessary to keep up with fast-paced technological changes and solve the complex scientific problems that affect our society as a whole.”
“Ensuring the STEM workforce looks like American is important for the future of America’s competitiveness in the world economy. Ensuring all students have the tools to succeed in — and know they can belong in — this fastest-growing, highest-paying employment sector is important for our nation, and particularly for West Virginia. Today’s launch of the Senate Women in STEM Caucus is evidence of Senators Capito and Rosen’s commitment to supporting women and girls in STEM fields to ensure we have a strong, diverse research workforce here in West Virginia and across the country,” said Dr. Gay Stewart, Director of the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in STEM. “As a long-time member of The Science Coalition, West Virginia University applauds Senators Capito and Rosen for leading this bipartisan effort in Congress, which could be a driving force in creating policy solutions that change the landscape of American research and innovation.”
As the first former computer programmer in the Senate, Senator Rosen has been a champion for increasing participation in STEM education and careers throughout her time in office. Senator Rosen’s office regularly spotlights Nevada Women in STEM who are role models and breaking barriers in their fields to inspire young girls and women to pursue STEM education and careers.
Since joining the Senate, Senator Capito has strongly advocated for more female involvement in STEM fields through legislative efforts. Additionally, as West Virginia’s first female U.S. Senator, Senator Capito launched a female empowerment program known as, West Virginia Girls Rise Up, which inspires the next generation of female leaders through education, physical fitness, and self-confidence. Since launching, Senator Capito has hosted several STEM-focused Girls Rise Up events with NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson, IBM, and NASA Astronaut Loral O’Hara.
Senators Rosen and Capito’s bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act was signed into law in 2019. This law:
- Provides research grants through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase understanding of the factors that contribute to the participation of young girls in STEM activities, study the barriers to engaging young girls in STEM, and develop strategies for prekindergarten and elementary school educators to increase the participation of young girls in computer science.
- Enhances support for early childhood STEM education within an NSF research program that seeks to improve PreK-12 STEM education and teaching.
- Helps increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM fields.