President Donald Trump has signed two bills aimed at increasing the number of women who pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and space-related STEM careers.
“Currently, only 1 in every 4 women who gets a STEM degree is working in a STEM job, which is not fair and it’s not even smart for the people that aren’t taking advantage of it,” Trump said in remarks during the signing. “It’s unacceptable that we have so many American women who have these degrees but yet are not being employed in these fields. So I think that’s going to change. That’s going to change very rapidly.”
The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act authorizes 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.”
The Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act “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.”
Trump added that his administration will focus heavily in the coming months and years on encouraging women to pursue STEM studies and enter STEM fields in the workforce.
“We need policies that help support women in the workforce, and that’s really very much going to be addressed by my administration over the years, and to get more and more of these bills coming out, and address the barriers faced by female and those in STEM fields,” he said.
The move comes as many educators and stakeholders worry that policies enacted under the Trump Administration will have a negative impact on public education.
The challenge of attracting and retaining more women in STEM fields has gained more attention over the past several years, with federal funding dedicated to studies that examine the issue. More and more pilot programs and initiatives are emerging in an effort to reverse the alarming trend.
When it comes to STEM, many women report experiencing negative stereotypes in class, and many say they lack female role models. Two-thirds of women in a recent CDW-G survey said they struggled with confidence.
Of survey respondents who left STEM fields, 69 percent left their programs before junior year, 30 percent said they felt like they didn’t belong in their major, and 29 percent said the material was too challenging.
CDW-G’s UniversITy Women pilot program partners with Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin connects female executives from leading technology companies with college women to cover current trends and opportunities in the technology industry, and to provide the students with valuable exposure and resources.