03.12.19

Capito, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Building Blocks of STEM Act

Bipartisan STEM education bill receives endorsement from Girl Scouts of America, The American Association of University Women (AAUW)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act alongside Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). The bill 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.

“Technology and the tech industry provide so many opportunities for students and workers to pursue jobs and contribute to shaping our economy right here at home in West Virginia and in communities across the country,” Senator Capito said. “By finding ways to introduce students to STEM skills and knowledge at an early age, we can help them better learn to take risks, solve problems, and build confidence—especially among young women and girls. I’m proud to team up with my colleagues to reintroduce this important bipartisan legislation so we can help young minds realize their incredible potential, inspire them to pursue careers in critical industries, and empower them to follow their dreams.”

“Ensuring that the lifelong benefits of early and consistent exposure to STEM fields reaches girls is critical to America’s long term technological, economic, and security interests,” said Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. “As single largest girl-serving, girl-led leadership program in the country, Girl Scouts’ STEM programs reach more girls in more places than any other organization. We are proud to support Senator Rosen and her cosponsors’ Building Blocks of STEM Act to make funds available for research and programming to increase girls' engagement in STEM.”

“Despite significant strides women are making in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science fields, barriers to gender equity still exist. This is particularly true for girls, especially girls of color,” said Kimberly Churches, chief executive officer of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). “The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act takes important steps toward identifying systematic barriers and biases affecting young girls in STEM and computer science. AAUW commends Senator Rosen for her leadership on this critical issue and looks forward to continue working together to ensure equity in STEM education for all women and girls.”

In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) and Congressman Jim Baird (R-Ind.)—respectively, the chair and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology—are introducing companion legislation.

BACKGROUND

Studies have found that children who engage in scientific activities from an early age develop positive attitudes toward science and are more likely to pursue STEM expertise and careers later on. The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act would direct NSF to more equitably distribute funding for early childhood education in its Discovery Research PreK-12 program, which seeks to enhance the learning and teaching of STEM and address the immediate challenges that are facing PreK-12 STEM education. The program currently focuses the majority of its research on students in middle school and older.

This year’s Senate bill also includes the bipartisan Code Like a Girl Act, which would direct NSF to award research grants to increase understanding of the factors that contribute to the participation of young girls in STEM activities and to develop interventions in Pre-K and elementary school classrooms to increase the participation of young girls in computer science.

The Building Blocks of STEM Act is endorsed by Girl Scouts of the USA, Save the Children Action Network, Common Sense Kids Action, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), National Organization for Women, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS), and Girls, Inc. 

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