U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) introduced bipartisan legislation today with U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) that will increase the participation of underrepresented students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. H.R. 4161, the 21st Century STEM for Underrepresented Students Act, would target K-8 students who face barriers to STEM education and programming.
"High school and college are often too late to expose students to STEM. That effort must start earlier, and target underrepresented students such as girls, people of color, and those who have historically faced economic or other barriers to STEM achievement," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "The impact of not doing this important work is evident in the workforce: women for example make up only 24 percent of STEM career-holders today. We must change that statistic by laying the groundwork now."
H.R. 4161 will fund research on after-school, out-of-school, and summer STEM pilot programs through National Science Foundation grants. The programs will aim to include experienced non-profit organizations that have a track record of effectively working with underrepresented youth. The National Science Foundation will then analyze the research findings, create best practices, and disseminate and replicate them as appropriate.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Wasserman Schultz is committed to fighting for future funding that will enhance STEM programming nationwide.
"This is personal to me. I want my daughters, and all underrepresented students who have the potential to be future STEM leaders, to know that their school and their community can offer them programming, resources, and support that expose them to the STEM fields," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "Young people are our future workforce and innovators, and anything that prepares them for a potential STEM career makes us a more competitive, stronger nation."