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APA Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Women and STEM Careers

By Karen Studwell

As Congress looks for ways to increase the American science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, additional attention is also being paid to the underrepresentation of women in STEM careers. On July 16, the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues and the Congressional STEM Education Caucus partnered with APA and other organizations to sponsor a briefing to discuss how science can inform policies that seek to increase the role of women in STEM education and careers.

Marcia Linn, Professor of Psychology at UC-Berkeley, presented her research on using technology to improve science education and how this would help to improve achievement not only for girls, but for all children. She also pointed out that as the achievement gap has been eliminated between boys and girls in math, there are likely other factors, such as balancing family responsibilities that create additional obstacles for women who want to maintain a career in research.

Also on the panel was Col. Pamela Ann Melroy, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut who served as a pilot on two space shuttle flights and as mission commander on STS-120 Discovery in 2007. She shared her personal experience of pursuing a career in astrophysics and highlighted how her success was built on her supportive parents, professional mentors, personal ambition as well as organizations like NASA that have achieved a critical mass of women scientists.

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, opened the briefing and was joined by Rep.Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Co-Chair of the STEM Education Caucus, who welcomed the speakers and reiterated their support for expanding opportunities for women and other young people to pursue science careers.