East Hawaii News

Hirono Co-Introduces STEM Booster Act, Honors Women on Senate Floor

March 17, 2016, 11:28 AM HST
* Updated March 17, 11:49 AM
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Senator Mazie Hirono, along with New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, introduced new legislation on Thursday that would provide support to women and minorities entering into science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

The Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act would allow the National Science Foundation to award competitive grants for outreach, mentoring, and professional development programs that support recruitment and retention of women and minorities in STEM fields.

“Approximately half of the U.S. population and workforce is made up of women, but women make up just over a quarter of the STEM workforce,” said Senator Hirono. “As we honor female pioneers during Women’s History Month, this legislation would support proven programs that increase interest and mentor women and minorities interested in STEM fields, and pave the way for the next generation of women innovators.”

“Our economy continues to create high-paying jobs in STEM fields, yet the pipelines for these careers often under-represent women and minorities. In fact, women hold just 26 percent of STEM jobs, even though they make up nearly half of the workforce,” said Representative Maloney. “I’m proud to introduce the STEM Booster Act, which tackles this challenge through innovative programs to encourage women and minorities to explore STEM subjects, and discover academic and career opportunities so they can translate an interest in science and technology into the credentials they need for 21st century jobs.”

The legislation also authorizes funding for STEM education outreach programs at the elementary and secondary school level, and includes an emphasis on funding for mentoring programs, as well as programs to increase the recruitment and retention of women and minority university faculty.

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Senator Hirono also took the Senate floor in honor of Women’s History Month, celebrated in March. She honored women in STEM, including Dr. Isabella Kauakea Yau Ying Aiona Abbott, who was raised on Maui. Abbott went on to become the first Native Hawaiian woman to receive a Ph.D. in science, and is a leading expert on Pacific algae.

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The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Henrich (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Representatives Madeline Z. Bordallo (D-GU), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mike Honda (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), William R. Keating (D-MA), James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Louise Slaghter (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

The Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act is supported by the American Association of University Women, Association of Women’s Business Centers, Association of Women in Science, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls, Inc., National Action Council for Minority Engineers, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, National Society for Black Engineers, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Society of Women Engineers, STEMConnector/Million Women Mentors, and Women in Public Policy.

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