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Today, President Trump signed into law two new bills geared towards women and their work in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. It specifically focuses on the impact organizations can have on young women both in school and once they start their careers. The bills will likely impact many young women both now and in the future. Here’s what you need to know.
H.R. 225 – the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
This bill “amends the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act to authorize the National Science Foundation to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.”
As seen above, the main goal is to “authorize the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs for women,” and they do so by amending a prior act passed by Congress in 1980 to make it more inclusive. The bill itself mentions that while women make up around 50% of the work force, only 26% of women who graduate with a STEM degree pursue a career in a STEM field. It addresses that women are, on the whole, less likely to pursue a STEM degree during their graduate or undergraduate studies, and seeks to promote women in the respective fields, addressing the impact women can and have had.
H.R. 321 – the INSPIRE Women Act
This bill “directs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), pursue careers in aerospace, and further advance the nation’s space science and exploration efforts through support of the following initiatives: NASA GIRLS and NASA BOYS; Aspire to Inspire; and Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.”
The act discusses the importance of the NASA GIRLS and BOYS mentoring programs as they give young students the opportunity to have a mentor from NASA. It mentions how the Aspire to Inspire (A2I) program seeks to promote and make known careers that are available in STEM fields through the lives of early career women at NASA. In addition, the bill addresses the importance of the SISTER program in increasing awareness and providing opportunity for female middle school students to be exposed to various STEM fields.
In it’s course of action, the bill gives a timeline as to how the actions must be executed and reported on. Within 90 days the act demands Congress to develop “a plan for how NASA can best facilitate and support both current and retired astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators, including early career female astronauts, scientists, engineers, and innovators, to engage with K–12 female STEM students and inspire the next generation of women to consider participating in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to pursue careers in aerospace.” The plan must report existing activities of current and retired astronauts, identify how NASA can leverage available resources to comply with the act, propose a plan for the retired astronauts, and identify any additional resources that may be needed.