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House Vote This Thursday on STEM Bill

05/12/2010
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Here’s the most recent email from the AAUW Action Network.  Please contact your representative (see the link the email, it’s easy as pie) if you support this bill!

House Vote This Thursday on STEM Bill Take Action!
The House is expected to vote this Thursday on the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5116), and your voice is needed to ensure its passage.  This bill, which was introduced by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), authorizes science and technology research programs for five years and contains a number of provisions to support education and training in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Originally enacted in 2007, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act (P.L. 110-069) expanded programs to strengthen teachers’ math and science teaching skills, helped to prepare thousands of new science, technology, engineering, and math teachers, and established a program to provide mentors for women and underrepresented minorities interested in careers in these fields.  AAUW members were strong supporters of this law.
The reauthorization bill includes a number of provisions to improve STEM education and reduce gender barriers that deter women from pursuing academic and career goals in the these fields.  In addition to providing for scholarships and stipends to recruit math and science teachers, the bill creates a new grant program for colleges and universities to improve undergraduate STEM education and creates a new director of STEM education within the Department of Energy.  The bill also include provisions from the AAUW-supported Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act (H.R. 1144), which was introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  These provisions create workshops that will educate program officers, university STEM department chairs, and others about methods that minimize the effects of gender bias in evaluation of federal research grants and faculty hiring and tenure practices.  It also includes provisions that account for the care giving responsibilities of researchers and technical staff.  However, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) plans to offer an amendment to cut these provisions from the bill — another reason it’s critical that you contact your representative today.
AAUW’s recent report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, found that environmental and social barriers continue to block women’s participation and progress in STEM fields.  The lack of women and girls in STEM fields has significant implications not only for women’s economic security, but for the overall economy as well.  AAUW believes H.R. 5116 will improve opportunities for women in these technical fields, improve STEM education for all students, and increase America’s global competitiveness.
Take Action!
Urge your representative to vote yes when the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act comes to the floor this week and to oppose any weakening amendments, especially the Issa amendment.  Simply click on the “Take Action” link in the upper right corner or copy and paste the following URL into your Internet browser.  Then follow the instructions to compose and send your message.

For more information, read our position paper on science, technology, engineering, and math education, and our new research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We also encourage you to learn more about the AAUW-led National Girls Collaborative Project.
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