Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

senate Bill S. 737

Should NSF Grants Supporting STEM Education Study Factors Contributing to Girls’ Lower Participation Rates in STEM?

Argument in favor

Girls’ low participation in STEM education leads to lower STEM degree attainment, and then lower STEM career participation, for women. Given that STEM careers are growing at twice the rate of other careers, it’s important to ensure that girls’ interest in STEM careers is encouraged as much as possible to ensure their ability to pursue well-paid STEM jobs in future isn’t compromised by low STEM program participation early in life. To this end, a better understanding of the factors that affect girls’ participation, or lack thereof, in STEM programs is needed to inform responses to this issue.

jimK's Opinion
···
12/09/2019
STEM education is education for the future of this country. It prepares youth to find challenging and generally well compensated employment in activities that underlie economic growth and future prosperity. If our youngest have capabilities and interest in math, science and technology - they should be encouraged. If there are societal pressures that are dissuading our female youth from these pursuits or other factors regarding other’s expectations instead of what they would want, we should know and at least work to remove those barriers. I endorse the study since I believe that STEM education is critical to our county’s health and well being- and that the losing half of our youth who would pursue this to unwarranted stigma’s is well, just stupid. Next, we have to upgrade educational programs to include more passionate and knowledgeable teachers into our schools to inspire our youth - and the funding to make this type of learning interesting and fun. … … … NoHedges: I can’t reach the DC from my iPad currently so I cannot respond directly to your comments. My endorsement of STEM is an endorsement of the concept of encouraging this type of education for our youngsters. From your comment, I believe that you may be referring to the consequences of a specific STEM program implementation, of which I have no knowledge or experience and certainly cannot comment on. I will try to be more careful about this in the future. I won’t be able to check the web site you referenced until I can a get back to a computer tomorrow but, as always, I am looking forward to check out your references.
Like (23)
Follow
Share
KansasTamale's Opinion
···
12/10/2019
Girls’ low participation in STEM education lowers STEM degree attainment, and that leads to lower STEM career participation, for women. STEM careers are growing at twice the speed as other careers so it’s important to enable girls’ increased interest in STEM careers to encourage girls to attend STEM classes as much as possible to help increase their ability to pursue well-paid STEM jobs in future. Taking these STEM classes is important, but there aren’t as many classes as needed to get girls involved. Changes need to be made do that girls’ STEM education isn’t compromised by low STEM program participation early in life. For that reason a better understanding of the factors that affect girls’ participation, or lack thereof, in STEM programs is needed to inform responses to this issue.
Like (3)
Follow
Share
Bo's Opinion
···
12/10/2019
Thanks again for your well-reasoned comments JimK!. I would like to add that neither a class in Civics, nor one in Logic, Literary Classics, and philosophy should be left out as basic requirements. I am finding all too frequently these days that ages behind me (a late Boomer) have never been exposed to all or even some of those. Explains a lot as to where we are as a culture doesn't it?
Like (2)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

While it’s important to make STEM education available to children of all genders to ensure that they’re aware of these opportunities and the careers they might lead to, the recent focus on girls in STEM has gone too far to the point of eroding meritocracy and marginalizing boys and men. Rather than pouring taxpayer money into single-sex education of any type (which Title IX may disallow), it’d be better to spend federal government resources on addressing broader-based challenges associated with educational equity, and preK-12 STEM programs that are open to all students.

JTJ's Opinion
···
12/09/2019
Boys and girls are different and are generally interested in different things. Get the government out of education entirely.
Like (10)
Follow
Share
NoHedges's Opinion
···
12/09/2019
Not until there is the needed federal infrastructure to support these types of initiatives. STEM has been turned into little more than a marketing tool.
Like (4)
Follow
Share
Doug's Opinion
···
12/09/2019
America is the land of opportunity and no systemic bigotry to deprive females of pursuing a STEM career exists.
Like (4)
Follow
Share

What is Senate Bill S. 737?

This bill — the Building Blocks of STEM Act — would two modify National Science Foundation (NSF) grant programs that support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including computer science) education to authorize their use to study factors that contribute to female students’ participation (or lack thereof) in STEM education and encourage young girls’ participation in computer science activities in pre-K and elementary classrooms. It would also direct the NSF to focus on early childhood education within the Discovery Research preK-12 grant program.

The bill would instruct the NSF, when awarding grants under the Discovery Research PreK-12 program, to improve the focus of research and development on early childhood education. It’d specify that NSF grants to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM fields may be used for research into various subjects regarding female students in prekindergarten through elementary school, including:

  • The role of teacher training and professional development — including effective incentive structures — in encouraging or discouraging female pre-K through elementary school aged students’ participation in STEM activities;
  • The role of teachers in encouraging or discouraging participation by such students in STEM activities;
  • The role of parents and other caregivers in encouraging or discouraging female students’ participation in STEM activities in preschool through elementary school;
  • The types of STEM activities that encourage greater participation by girls;
  • The role of mentorship and best practices in finding and utilizing mentors; and
  • The role of informal and after-school STEM learning opportunities in influencing female pre-K through elementary school-aged female students’ perception of and participation  in STEM activities.

Furthermore, this bill would specify that NSF grants to research computer science education and computational thinking may be used to support the development and implementation of various tools and models for teaching and learning, including:

  • Providing pre-kindergarten and elementary school teachers training and professional development programs (e.g., summer or academic year institutes or workshops) to strengthen their capabilities to recognize and combat bias against female students in the classroom;
  • Offering innovative pre-service and in-service programs to instruct teachers on female-inclusive practices for teaching computing concepts;
  • Developing distance learning programs for teachers and students (including curricular materials, play-based computing activities, and other resources for teachers’ in-service professional development through online resources);
  • Developing and offering gender-inclusive computer science enrichment programs; 
  • Providing mentors for female students in pre-K through elementary school to support their participation in computer science activities;
  • Engaging female students in pre-K through elementary school and their guardians about the difficulties female students face with regard to maintaining an interest in computer science activities and the potential positive career benefits of engaging in computer science activities; and
  • Acquainting female students in prekindergarten through elementary school with careers in computer science.

This bill wouldn’t increase the amount of money NSF has to give out via grants. Historically, the NSF has spent about $160 million annually on the programs this bill would legislate on.

Impact

Pre-K through 12th grade girls; STEM education for girls grades pre-K through 12th grade; research into girls’ participation and lack thereof in STEM programs; and the NSF.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 737

$0.00
The CBO estimates that this bill wouldn’t change the number of grants that the NSF awards, and that it therefore wouldn’t have any significant cost.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress, with some modifications, to create and expand upon STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for young children, including new research grants to increase girls’ participation in computer science:

“It is so important for young children, especially our girls, to be introduced to opportunities available to them in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. As a computer programmer, I faced adversity in what has long been considered a male-dominated field and I’m working to break down those barriers for our current and future generations. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that our children are prepared with the education necessary to succeed in a 21st-century economy while also taking steps to close the gender gap in STEM. I will continue to be an advocate for investing in STEM education initiatives so that we are better equipped to address our changing economic and national security needs.”

After this bill passed the Senate, Rep. Rosen said

“I’m happy to report that my bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act has cleared a new milestone by passing the Senate. This bill is now one step closer to becoming law. The gender gap in STEM is depriving our country of talented minds that could be inventing the next breakthrough technology, developing the next big startup, or keeping our nation safe from cyberattacks. I’ll continue to support legislation that will give our students in Nevada and across the country tools that will prepare them for the careers of the future.”

After this bill’s Senate passage, lead Republican cosponsor Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said

“The earlier we introduce STEM skills and knowledge to students, the more prepared they are for future careers. I’m proud to work with Senator Rosen and our colleagues to encourage all students—especially young women and girls—to pursue jobs in the STEM field, and I’m thrilled our legislation passed the Senate. The tech industry is growing in Appalachia, and we want our students to be able to contribute to the economy at home in West Virginia with competitive, high-paying STEM jobs.”

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) is the sponsor of this bill’s House companion. After the House passed her House legislation, Rep. Stevens said

“I am thrilled that the House of Representatives voted to pass the Building Blocks of STEM Act. This bill will help ensure that our children are prepared to thrive in the 21st century economy by directing public resources to study opportunities for early childhood STEM education and strategies to encourage girls to engage in STEM & computer science. Women and girls everywhere need to know that they can succeed in the STEM fields, and that our country and our economy won’t succeed without them. Let’s keep advocating, encouraging, and mentoring the diverse next generation of STEM leaders.”

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is among a number of women’s and girls’ advocacy organizations that supports this bill. Its CEO, Kimberly Churches, says

“Despite significant strides women are making in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science fields, barriers to gender equity still exist. This is particularly true for girls, especially girls of color. The bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act takes important steps toward identifying systematic barriers and biases affecting young girls in STEM and computer science. AAUW commends Senator Rosen for her leadership on this critical issue and looks forward to continue working together to ensure equity in STEM education for all women and girls.”

There have recently been a number of legal challenges to female-only scholarships, awards, professional development workshops, and STEM camps for girls in middle and high school. These suits point out that sex discrimination in educational programs is banned under Title IX (a federal law that applies to all schools that receive federal funding regardless of their public or private status), and contend that girls-only STEM programs violate Title IX. An anonymous female professor at UCLA who filed a Title IX complaint against UCLA challenging two workshops for women held by the campus’ Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics told the Los Angeles Times that, as a mentor to college students of all genders, she’s seen more men becoming discouraged about their chances of success in the field due to an erosion of meritocracy and growing favoritism of women in the sciences. 

Everett Bartlett, president of Stop Abuse and Violent Environments (a group originally founded to lobby for due process rights for those accused of campus sexual misconduct, and which launched a project to challenge single-gender programs in January 2019), says, “The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. We’re not a society based on quotas, we’re a society based on fairness.” 

The National Women’s Law Center’s Emily Martin contends that female-focused programs are allowed under Title IX as permissible affirmative action to overcome conditions that resulted in “limited participation” of one gender in a particular educational program (in this case, STEM education). Martin argued that suits alleging men are being treated unfairly under Title IX are political ploys to undermine women’s advancement

“There’s a pretty well-organized and well-financed movement that is pushing out the false narrative that men are the victims of feminism. The Trump administration has emboldened those trying to use this moment and this Department of Education as a weapon against women’s advancement.”

While Title IX expert and Western New England University Erin Buzuvis also questions whether the recent surge in complaints about single-sex programs is motivated by a desire to undermine Title IX, she also says it’s appropriate to review sex-specific programs to see if they’ve become outdated as women have advanced in higher education. In Buzuvis’ view, “We need to be skeptical ... of any segregation projects because the risk of treating people unequally on the basis of sex is promoting stereotypes.”

Joseph Cimpian, an associate professor of economics and education policy at New York University, argues that the problem of gender equity in education largely results from “an education system that devalues young women’s contributions and underestimates young women’s intellectual abilities more broadly.” In light of this observation, he contends that cultural and societal interventions, rather than public policy, are the most effective means of remedying the gender equity gap: 

“[E]ducation systems (and society) unjustifiably and systematically view women as less intellectually capable.My argument that policy probably isn’t the solution is not intended to undercut the importance of affirmative action and grievance policies that have helped many individuals take appropriate legal recourse. Rather, I am arguing that those policies are certainly not enough, and that the typical K-12 policy mechanisms will likely have no real effect in improving equity for girls. The obstacles that women face are largely societal and cultural. They act against women from the time they enter kindergarten—instilling in very young girls a belief they are less innately talented than their male peers—and persist into their work lives. Educational institutions—with undoubtedly many well-intentioned educators—are themselves complicit in reinforcing the hurdles. In order to dismantle these barriers, we likely need educators at all levels of education to examine their own biases and stereotypes.”

This legislation passed the Senate by voice vote with the support of eight bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including four Democrats and four Republicans. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI), passed the House by voice vote with the support of 11 bipartisan House cosponsors, including eight Democrats and three Republicans.

A number of women’s and girl’s organizations and technology industry associations support this legislation. They include Girls Scouts of the USA, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), BSA The Software Alliance, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), National Organization for Women, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS),Girls, Inc., BSA The Software Alliance, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and Code.org.

Sen. Rosen introduced similar legislation to focus NSF STEM education programming on young children and to award grants to encourage young girls to pursue computer science learning in the 115th Congress. It was initially introduced as the Code LIke a Girl Act (H.R.3316), then rolled into then-Rep. Rosen’s Building Blocks of STEM Act (H.R.3397) with the support of 30 other House cosponsors, including 29 Democrats and two Republicans. That bill passed the House by voice vote, burt didn’t see action in the Senate.


Of NoteEmployment in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations has increased by 10% over the past decade. This is nearly double the growth rate of non-STEM occupations (5.2% growth over the same period). 

While the number of women entering the workforce in STEM careers has risen significantly over the past 20 years and significant strides have been made toward closing the gender gap in several STEM field, significant gender disparities remain through computer and mathematical sciences and engineering at all levels of education. 

According to the Commerce Dept., women currently comprise only 24% of the STEM workforce. This problem begins in the K-12 years, when boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to take computer science classes. Consequently, Rep. Rosen observed last year, “fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women.”

Studies have shown that children who engage in scientific activities from an early age develop positive attitudes toward science. They’re also more likely to pursue STEM expertise and careers later on. Additionally, research shows that introducing STEM subjects at a young age helps produce positive outcomes overall in school, career, and life.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / skynesher)

AKA

Building Blocks of STEM Act

Official Title

A bill to direct the National Science Foundation to support STEM education research focused on early childhood.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house Passed on a voice vote
  • The senate Passed on a voice vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedMarch 11th, 2019
    STEM education is education for the future of this country. It prepares youth to find challenging and generally well compensated employment in activities that underlie economic growth and future prosperity. If our youngest have capabilities and interest in math, science and technology - they should be encouraged. If there are societal pressures that are dissuading our female youth from these pursuits or other factors regarding other’s expectations instead of what they would want, we should know and at least work to remove those barriers. I endorse the study since I believe that STEM education is critical to our county’s health and well being- and that the losing half of our youth who would pursue this to unwarranted stigma’s is well, just stupid. Next, we have to upgrade educational programs to include more passionate and knowledgeable teachers into our schools to inspire our youth - and the funding to make this type of learning interesting and fun. … … … NoHedges: I can’t reach the DC from my iPad currently so I cannot respond directly to your comments. My endorsement of STEM is an endorsement of the concept of encouraging this type of education for our youngsters. From your comment, I believe that you may be referring to the consequences of a specific STEM program implementation, of which I have no knowledge or experience and certainly cannot comment on. I will try to be more careful about this in the future. I won’t be able to check the web site you referenced until I can a get back to a computer tomorrow but, as always, I am looking forward to check out your references.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Boys and girls are different and are generally interested in different things. Get the government out of education entirely.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Not until there is the needed federal infrastructure to support these types of initiatives. STEM has been turned into little more than a marketing tool.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    America is the land of opportunity and no systemic bigotry to deprive females of pursuing a STEM career exists.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    No! Stop trying to force girls into stem just to fit your own biases, prejudices, and irrational world view. Girls clearly aren’t interested in it; leave them alone to choose their own life path. ........Go make more delusional fantasy movies where 90 pound girls fight with and beat up 200 pound men because girls are tough too! LOL! Women and men are different, and that’s okay. Equal does not mean same.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    We need to increase student interest in STEM education to continue to compete in a global economy. The focus on females is key since fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have remained predominantly male with historically low participation among women since the origins of these fields during the Age of Enlightenment. Also, beginning in early education, starting with PreK, is huge! This is when girls and boys typically develop what it means to be male/female, what roles are appropriate, what careers, how to dress, etc. If very young girls are encouraged at this age to gravitate towards STEM fields, just imagine the innovation, science & technology the United States could lead the world!!!
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Girls’ low participation in STEM education lowers STEM degree attainment, and that leads to lower STEM career participation, for women. STEM careers are growing at twice the speed as other careers so it’s important to enable girls’ increased interest in STEM careers to encourage girls to attend STEM classes as much as possible to help increase their ability to pursue well-paid STEM jobs in future. Taking these STEM classes is important, but there aren’t as many classes as needed to get girls involved. Changes need to be made do that girls’ STEM education isn’t compromised by low STEM program participation early in life. For that reason a better understanding of the factors that affect girls’ participation, or lack thereof, in STEM programs is needed to inform responses to this issue.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    No. If young students decide what they want to study for themselves why is the government getting involved. It’s not sexism or bigotry, it a choice made by students in what they are interested in, so what is the purpose of spending this tax money.
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    Thanks again for your well-reasoned comments JimK!. I would like to add that neither a class in Civics, nor one in Logic, Literary Classics, and philosophy should be left out as basic requirements. I am finding all too frequently these days that ages behind me (a late Boomer) have never been exposed to all or even some of those. Explains a lot as to where we are as a culture doesn't it?
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    It is totally discriminatory at this point, and must be corrected. Personally, I’m completely shocked that this kind of discrimination is still continuing in the field of medicine. I thought this was corrected years ago.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Sure, let's spend a bunch of taxpayer money on some studies and then do nothing to fix the problems, just blame Republicans! LIBERALISM WORKS!
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Why does the Federal government have to do everything? and how much does this cost to our national debt. I am consistent and have called out against massive military spending as well
    Like
    Follow
    Share