Panel Discussion Focused On Challenges Women In The STEM Workforce Are Facing, Particularly In the Wake Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

Watch/Download Video of Senator Rosen’s Remarks HERE

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), co-founders of the bipartisan Senate Women in STEM Caucus, hosted an inaugural panel discussion on women in the STEM workforce. The panel was moderated by Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers, and featured Senators Rosen and Capito along with Dr. Aster Sigel, Director of Undergraduate Research at Nevada State College, and Dr. Rolanda J. Johnson Wilkerson, Principal Scientist and Senior Director of Scientific Communications for Olay Beauty. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women’s rate of participation in the labor force is at the lowest level since 1988. In the STEM workforce specifically, women are “vastly underrepresented,” holding less than one-third of all STEM jobs.

“Early in my career as a computer programmer, I saw firsthand that women are underrepresented in STEM careers. Today, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that shortage of women in the STEM workforce has only been exacerbated by the unique challenges the pandemic has presented for women,” said Senator Rosen. “This conversation is an incredibly important one for lawmakers and business leaders to have, and I am grateful to Senator Capito for partnering with me to launch this caucus. I look forward to expanding our bipartisan work to improve access to STEM jobs for women and make STEM more equitable for all.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a unique impact on women in the workforce, including those in STEM fields,” said Senator Capito. “Right now is a critical time to support policies that help women face these challenges and make it easier to both reenter, and thrive, in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. As part of our ongoing efforts in Congress, today’s inaugural conversation brought together experts, business and academic leaders, and those on the ground who are working to prepare the next generation of female workers. I’m proud to continue the momentum Senator Rosen and I have built, and look forward to expanding our work to help more women pursue lasting careers in STEM fields.”

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.

Last Congress, Senators Rosen and Capito introduced and passed the bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act, which 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. Their bill was signed into law at the end of 2019.

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