This year’s White House Science Fair features a special focus on girls and women who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and inspiring us all with their work. Since the beginning of his Administration, the President has been committed to getting more underrepresented groups, including women and girls, excited to excel at STEM subjects. As part of the Administration’s signature education reform initiative, Race to the Top, President Obama granted states competitive preference if they demonstrated efforts to close the STEM gap for girls and other underrepresented groups.
Building on the Administration’s long term commitments in help girls excel in STEM, today we are also pleased to announce:
More than half of the approximately 100 students participating in the Science Fair this year are girls.
A number of announcements being made at the Science Fair are focused on getting more underrepresented students, especially women and girls, engaged and excelling in STEM.
Today we are also thrilled to launch a new series of events celebrating girls and women in STEM. Over the coming year, the Administration will host a series of “role model roundtables” between girls and female STEM leaders from across the Administration. Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Council on Women and Girls Executive Director Tina Tchen, and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Dr. John Holdren kicked-off the series by hosting a conversation with girls participating in the White House Science Fair and Senior Administration STEM leaders including Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls Tina Tchen.
In addition to these efforts, two new private sector announcements focused on increasing the number of women and girls in STEM include:
New Discovery Channel efforts to get more girls engaged in STEM: Today the Discovery Channel announced plans to air a cross-channel public service announcement on its 14 U.S. Networks, focusing on the importance of STEM education and the need to recruit STEM mentors to help encourage students, and especially girls, at a young age to get involved in STEM subjects. Discovery Channel's MythBusters and Science Channel's Head Rush host Kari Byron will star in the PSA. Kari began filming today with some of the amazing girls participating in this year’s Science Fair. Kari and Discovery Education will also take U.S. students on a virtual field trip to the White House Science Fair today as part of the Of the People: Live from the White House webinar series.
Launch of a Summer App Inventor Course for Girls: Today the American Association of University Women (AAUW), MIT, and Verizon Foundation announced a new partnership to bring the excitement of app development to rising eighth grade girls this summer. This summer, the weeklong STEM Tech Trek camps will launch on the campuses of: The University of California, Santa Barbara; Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK; and the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
In addition to these efforts, the Administration continues to engage in the Equal Futures Partnership—an international collaboration to promote women’s economic and political participation, citing opening doors to women and girls in STEM fields as a major priority area for the U.S. domestic commitments. As part of this initiative, U.S. Federal agencies and private-sector collaborators committed to opening doors to women in STEM disciplines and careers, promoting civic education and public leadership for girls, and expanding support for women entrepreneurs.
Under the leadership of the Council on Women and Girls and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Federal Agencies will also continue to expand an aggressive and broad set of engagement activities to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM.
To meet the students who participated in the White House Science Fair featuring a special focus on celebrating girls and women in STEM, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/science-fair
Kristin Lee is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy