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STEM Connector - STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Senator Kay Hagan

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By Tommy Cornelis

For more than 12 years, Senator Kay R. Hagan has been a champion for North Carolina families, our military and veterans, sound fiscal policy and quality education. She and her husband, Chip Hagan, have lived in Greensboro for more than 30 years, where they raised their three children: Jeanette, Tilden, and Carrie. After 10 years in the North Carolina State Senate, Senator Hagan was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 by North Carolinians seeking an active, effective leader who would bring North Carolina ideas and values to Congress.

Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?

What's true in North Carolina is true across the country: if we are to win the jobs of the future in today's global economy, we need to win the race to innovation and discovery. The biggest challenges of the next century - from communications to medicine to clean energy - require a workforce that's well-versed in the STEM fields.

What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?

We must counter the notion that the STEM field is a "male-only" club. The contributions of women to science and technology - from Rosalind Franklin to Marie Curie - have long played an important role in the global quest for innovation. But today, women only account for 40% of our nation's science and engineering degrees, and just 25% of math and computer science jobs. The challenges of the next century are too great for half our population to sit them out.

How are you innovating to promote STEM in your state?

Our country requires a workforce highly skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, I am concerned that our efforts in these critical areas lag behind those of other advanced nations. The ESEA Reauthorization bill that the Senate HELP Committee marked up, and that I support, creates a new focus on improving STEM instruction and student academic achievement in STEM subjects.

This piece of the legislation would create a new STEM program that will award grants to states, to create programs that aim to recruit, train and support excellent STEM teachers, providing them the tools necessary for success. It would also engage students and get them excited about STEM subjects through competitions and exposure to STEM careers.

We know that in today's economy the ability to think critically and creatively are key to a successful career. Not just in North Carolina but across the country, jobs are going to young people who can think, understand, analyze, and communicate. Too few North Carolina students are receiving the education necessary to be successful in our economy.

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