Sally Shuler - National Science Resource Center
Sally Goetz Shuler is Executive Director of the National Science Resources Center (NSRC), an organization founded by the National Academies and Smithsonian Institution. As a co-founder of the NSRC in 1985, she has created an organization that is transforming K-12 science education programs for millions of students based on research and promising practices in the United States and around the world. In the past five years she has received five awards: the Purkwa Prize; International Science Education Award; Tommy Award; Washington State Advocacy Award; and the National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Service Award.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to the nation?
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education are the underpinnings of our democracy, a robust economy, and security as well as critical in preparing our students and future citizens to make informed, rationale decisions about their lives, including health. Effective STEM education, is, in itself, an innovation engine, and more urgently needed now than ever before to address such major issues as climate change, international/national security, conservation of resources, disease epidemics, water, and other health threats, trade, and more. In President’s Obama’s words, “….we know that the nation that out educates us today will out compete us tomorrow. And I don’t intend to have us out-educated” (Obama, 2009).
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Unfortunately, our education system still operates in a vacuum from its customers. As a nation, we need informed, passionate, diverse, and committed leaders who can break the vacuum seal, open communication, and establish mutual accountabilities between all stakeholder groups, connecting and engaging the formal education system with the workplace as well as informal learning environments. These leaders need to lead a truly systemic approach to the problem, one that engages participants at every level, from students and classroom teachers through the highest levels of district, state, and national leadership. To be an effective leader today, it is critical that leaders remain focused on a strategic vision that will leverage resources and engage diverse stakeholders representing business, education, and government. They need to have knowledge about research and best practices, and a long-term commitment to translate this knowledge into strategies that systematically take proven methods to scale.
What principles do you, as a leader, apply to your professional and personal live to advance the STEM cause?
I believe that leadership is exciting, rewarding, and challenging on a daily basis. It requires a dedicated commitment to share the vision and inspire people at all levels to dream, participate, and make a difference. Both in my professional and personal life, I believe it is important to not only “do things right, but the right thing” when pressured otherwise.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
To assure we inspire and retain more women leaders in STEM, we need a dedicated, long-term approach at every level of the system. This approach needs to begin in the early years by providing all students, including young girls, with the opportunity to have access to exciting STEM education programs that are not only cognitively demanding but also relevant and interesting. As students move through the system, they also need internship opportunities at the middle school, high school, and academic level to provide real-world examples of how STEM is used in the real-world. In addition, there needs to be much more attention to the important role of mathematics, especially in middle school and beyond. This area of the curriculum needs to be seen as exciting and important to their lives as well as future STEM careers.