Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Eddie Bernice Johnson on Improving Representation of Minorities in Women in STEM

Yesterday's issue of Louisiana Weekly ran a column by U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) about "Diversifying the nation's science and technology workforce." Johnson is a senior member of the House Committee on Science and Technology and one of the founders of the House Innovation and Diversity Caucus. She has been working to improve science and math education and encourage underrepresented minorities and women in science and technology fields.

Research shows that the pipeline to the STEM professions starts breaking down for minorities in the K-12 classroom. Research has shown that a well-trained teacher can make the difference between a student's success and failure in math and science.

Recognizing this, I co-sponsored legislation that seeks to create 10,000 new teachers able to touch 10 million young minds. This bill boosts incentives for college students to pursue math and science teaching degrees and later teach in underserved schools. Ultimately, it aims to increase the number of highly qualified math and science teachers in schools which suffer from a shortage of well-prepared teachers. It also authorizes $1.5 billion for federal scholarships and continuing education programs for current math and science teachers.

Furthermore, my [Congressional Black Caucus] colleagues and I championed legislation that increases the National Science Foundation's focus on diversity at the collegiate level. A bill recently passed by the House directs federal researchers to report on the participation of under-represented groups in science, math and technology fields. They must also offer an annual plan describing how federal funds will be used to encourage more women and minorities to pursue science careers.

The web site of the House Science Committee has a nice set of links to science resources for teachers and students, including kids' pages at NASA, NOAA, EPA and other agencies, "Ask-A-Biologist" and "Ask-A-Geologist" services, and much more.

Tags: , , , , ,