Council on Women and Girls Blog
- Posted byon May 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Commerce.gov
This morning, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) commencement ceremony.
I was also deeply honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service during the ceremony for my work as a public servant, including the leadership I provided in my previous job at Commerce, overseeing the nation’s premier statistical agencies, the Census Bureau (during the 2010 Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The commencement speech provided an opportunity to give advice to the graduate students and to encourage them to use their expertise and experience to find solutions to the pressing problems facing our world. UMBC is particularly well-known for its scientific training. Science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–are particularly important, and it is STEM-related research that will drive innovation in the years ahead. In fact, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs, indicating the need for more workers with these skills.STEM jobs are not just for graduates with advanced degrees: about one-third of STEM jobs are available to workers who do not have college degrees, but who have post-high school training and certification.
But in the U.S., only about 13 percent of college graduates finish school with a STEM degree, compared to 25 percent of college graduates in other countries, like Germany. That’s why the President’s 2013 budget invests $3 billion across the federal government in programs that promote STEM education, a three percent increase. In particular, we need to focus on creating more paths for women and minorities to get STEM degrees. And we need to make sure that we keep the talent already here, by “stapling” green cards to the STEM degrees of foreign students who come to the U.S., get a world-class education, and receive job offers which will help our companies drive innovation.
- Posted byon May 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM EDT
The passage of the Violence Against Women Act nearly two decades ago was an historic moment for America's women and girls. The law gave women new legal protections that help ensure their safety.
Last month, Democratic and Republican Senators came together to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The bill they approved would address the high rates of domestic violence committed against Native American women, ensure that LGBT victims have access to services, and make college campuses safer places to live and study.
This is in keeping with the tradition of the Violence Against Women Act, which puts women's safety above partisan politics. Through its bipartisan vote, the Senate not only acted to preserve the original bill -- they improved it, protecting even more women from violence and abuse.
Read the full post at The Huffington Post
- Posted byon April 30, 2012 at 1:43 PM EDT
Last week, at the release of the White House Girls in STEM video, some of the Nation’s top women scientists and engineers took a break from their daily responsibilities at the heights of Federal, private, and academic science and technology enterprises to urge girls to open their minds to careers in these fields. Their voices joined a chorus of women across the country who are making it part of their mission to inspire students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Over the past few months, students from Santa Barbara, California to Miami, Florida have played hosts to some unusual substitute teachers, as senior women scientists and engineers from the highest levels of the Obama Administration hit the road as part of the Women in STEM Speakers Bureau roundtable series.
Designed to spark the interest of middle and high-school girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, the Women in STEM Speakers Bureau was launched by the White House Council on Women and Girls and Office of Science and Technology Policy in September of last year. Over the past seven months, outstanding STEM rolemodels from nine Federal agencies have signed on to participate in the program, inspiring girls and boys alike with their own personal stories and insights.
- Posted byon April 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM EDT
Women and girls continue to be significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields – a trend that starts early and comes at a serious cost to both the career prospects of our young women and the success of our economy. By ensuring women and girls receive the exposure, encouragement, and support they need to enter and succeed in STEM fields, this country can benefit from the full range and diversity of its talent.
The White House Council on Women and Girls is excited to announce a White House event that features a panel of trailblazing women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields who will share their experiences and encourage young women to follow in their footsteps – or blaze a trail of their own. Watch the event live at www.wh.gov/live tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 10:30am ET. During the event, panelists will answer questions from a live audience and also take questions submitted online. Ask your questions here or on Twitter using the hashtag #GirlsInSTEM.
This event will also include the very first public screening of “Girls in STEM,” a video on girls in STEM, featuring footage from girls who participated in the 2012 White House Science Fair.
- Posted byon April 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Commerce.gov
I recently had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation.
America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights – the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system – are critical tools that help commercialize game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs. Last week, I helped release a report co-produced with my colleagues in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the role of IP in the economy. The report shows that nearly 35 percent of our GDP – more than $5 trillion – comes from IP-intensive industries. We also found that IP-intensive industries support a total of about 40 million jobs. These findings demonstrate that IP protections aren’t just important for businesses and entrepreneurs; they are important for working families. Clearly, making sure that we adequately protect intellectual property is vital to maintaining America’s competitive edge and driving our overall prosperity.
But while private citizens and businesses are the primary source of new ideas, the government plays a key role in the effort to support innovation. At the Commerce Department, we work to support innovation and protect intellectual property on many fronts, including through the implementation of the America Invents Act, which is designed to modernize and streamline the U.S. patent process.
- Posted byon April 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM EDT
Today – Tuesday, April 17 – is Equal Pay Day, which marks the fact that, nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the average woman still has to work well into the calendar year to earn what the average man earned last year. According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, on average, full-time working women earned 77 cents to every dollar earned by men, and the gap is significantly more for women of color. This substantial gap is more than a mere statistic. It has real-life consequences. Women, who compose nearly half of the workforce, are bringing home 23 percent less than their male counterparts – which means less for families’ everyday needs, less for investments in our children’s futures, and, when added up over a lifetime of work, substantially less for retirement.
President Obama understands how much this issue impacts our nation’s economic well-being, and that’s why, from his earliest days in office, he has been committed to closing the pay gap. Today, in conjunction with Equal Pay Day, we are proud to announce the following additional initiatives:
- First, the White House released the Equal Pay Task Force Accomplishments Report: Fighting for Fair Pay in the Workplace. The Equal Pay Task Force (“Task Force”), which the President established in 2010, brings together the best expertise of professionals at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor and the Office of Personnel Management, who work daily to combat pay discrimination in the workplace. Since the Task Force’s creation, enforcement actions have increased; the government has recovered unprecedented monetary recoveries for women seeking their fair share for performing the same work as men; and investments in outreach to both employers and employees are paying big dividends. The report details the significant progress that the Task Force has made to fight pay discrimination – including improving inter-agency coordination and collaboration to ensure that the full weight of the federal government is focused on closing the gender pay gap once and for all. I commend the professionals who represent the member agencies on the Task Force for the extraordinary work they and their teams undertake each day to realize the President’s directive.
- Second, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced the winners of the “Equal Pay App Challenge.” In January of this year, the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Equal Pay Task Force, launched this challenge – inviting software developers to use publicly available data and resources to create applications that provide greater access to pay data organized by gender, race, and ethnicity; provide interactive tools for early career coaching or online mentoring; or provide data to help inform pay negotiations. A solution to the pay gap has been elusive, in part because access to basic information – e.g., typical salary ranges and skill level requirements for particular positions, advice on how to negotiate appropriate pay – is limited. Because of the enthusiastic response to the “Equal Pay App Challenge” and the creative apps that were developed, anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can access answers to these basic, but important, questions. This challenge represents just one more way that women can empower themselves with the tools they need to make sure they get equal pay for equal work.
- Finally, in our ongoing effort to educate employees and employers about their rights and responsibilities under our nation’s equal pay laws, the Department of Labor today published two brochures that will educate employees regarding their rights under the existing equal pay laws and enable employers to understand their obligations.
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