Kirsten Gillibrand - U.S. Senate
U.S. Senator, New York
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Over the last decade, the fastest growing occupations required proficiency in the fields of math and science. That pace will surely increase in the next decade. To make sure we are filling the jobs of the future here in New York and across America, we have to make sure we are educating our children at a level that prepares them for the economy of the future. Other countries like China and India are outperforming our students today.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 8 out of the 9 fastest-growing occupations require proficiency in STEM disciplines. Across New York, STEM-related jobs are expected to grow by over 33,000 jobs by 2018.
As we still recover from the economic crisis, it is my firm belief that empowering women is the key to a growing economy and a thriving middle class. That means we must prepare young women today with opportunities to excel in the fields that will define the economy of our future – like science, technology, engineering and math.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
We need young women today to be the ones who develop the next big ideas that spark new businesses that create the jobs of the future. Women represent 43 percent of our workforce but make up only 23 percent of scientists and engineers. And while women earn nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, less than 20 percent graduate with engineering degrees.
To encourage more women to lead in the fields of math and science and in emerging high-tech careers, I introduced legislation that will promote a strong STEM education and build a workforce to help America remain a world leader in innovation economy. The E2 for Innovation Act would create a targeted effort to expose elementary, middle and high schools students to science and engineering. I’ve also introduced proposals to spark greater interest in STEM learning and draw more STEM teachers to educate students.
Women can really make a difference and succeed in STEM-related fields. It is critical that our young girls are taught that through science, technology, engineering and math, they have the ability to help people and improve their communities.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
The iconic “Rosie the Riveter” campaign forever changed the landscape of our nation’s economy and increased opportunity for American women in the workplace. My grandmother was a riveter, my great aunt, my great grand-mother was a riveter – they literally went to the arsenal and worked during World War II to make a difference. By the end of war, six million women entered the workforce.
Today, we face a critical shortage of STEM proficient workers. We need that same call to action for this generation of women. The invitation, “we need you,” and the statement that “you can do it,” can actually make the difference. If we are going to out-innovate, out-educate, out-compete other countries as President Obama has aimed to do, it will be only if women are leading the way.