UPDATE: Congress encourages girls to pursue STEM jobs

Members of the Boys and Girls Club robotics team watch as their teammate works to place rubber bands onto a practice structure to simulate robotic-assisted surgery at the Henry Mayo Center on Thursday, July 13, 2017. For each successful rubber band placement, Henry Mayo donated $10 to the team. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

In many cases, the aerospace industry is still a primarily male-dominated field.

As of last year, one-third of NASA’s employees were women, according to an article by SiliconANGLE.

With a new piece of legislation, Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-Connecticut) hope to encourage more women to enter jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

The bill, introduced Monday, has been dubbed the Women in Aerospace Education Act and aims to create more STEM participation for girls K-12.

“Creating a large and diverse pool of talent for our aerospace industry just makes sense,” Knight said in a statement. “When we engage girls at a young age and show them the possibilities of careers in STEM fields, it sparks a lifelong passion for science and discovery.”

If the bill become law, Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grants will include aerospace engineering in their teacher training experience at the National Laboratories and NASA Centers.

Currently, these grants pay for students who go on to teach in rural or low-income school districts after getting a STEM degree.

“We simply cannot meet our aerospace workforce needs unless we empower and equip more young women to enter this exciting field,” Esty said in a statement.

Also, the bill instructs NASA to promote internships and fellowships for women by shifting their marketing and recruiting strategies to encourage women to apply.

“NASA thanks U.S. Representatives Steve Knight and Marcy Kaptur, and the additional founding members, for their continuing broad bipartisan support and for forming the NASA Caucus,” NASA spokesperson Katherine Brown said. “We look forward to working with them to advance the agency’s goals.”

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