With only a few days until a change in administration, the Society has already been working with the incoming administration on advocacy issues that are important to us. Just before Christmas, SWE sent a letter to the Biden-Harris transition team that is responsible for making recommendations to the new administration around issues of education and, in our case, STEM Education and the STEM workforce. This letter was quickly acknowledged and Karen Horting, SWE’s executive director, was invited to take part in a stakeholder call. The goal of this call was to learn more about the issues SWE cares about and what the new administration can do to support those priorities.
So, on January 1 (yes, you read that correctly), SWE, represented by Karen Horting, joined a call with four other stakeholder organizations and three members of the Biden-Harris education team. While some calls have had as many as 25 stakeholder organizations, being one of only five gave SWE plenty of time to share advocacy positions and issues of importance. On the top of our list is STEM education, namely policies that will help women and girls achieve greater access to the STEM fields, such as increasing access to college and career pathways, and investing in workforce training and apprenticeships at community colleges and MSIs that have historically been under-resourced, and (K12). In addition, enlarging America’s talent pool through the recruitment, training, and retention of STEM teachers along with the distribution of STEM resources via robust funding for Title II and Title IV programs in the Every Student Succeeds Act must be priorities for the Department of Education.
SWE also hopes the incoming administration maintains its focus on protecting women and girls so that they can thrive at school and in the workplace. Our organization is on the record decrying the rollback of Title IX and Clery Act protections and supports the President-Elect restoring and improving upon the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter Guidance. All of the stakeholders on the New Year’s Day call were also supportive of our position and encouraged staff to make sure the rollbacks were addressed in short order.
And finally, SWE knows that women can lead the way at all levels of STEM education and the workforce, but must be given the opportunities to do so. A better and more robust STEM workforce requires diversity and leadership from all walks of life. That is why SWE supports new initiatives such as the STEM RESTART Act, which amends WIOA to provide returnships to women seeking to return to the workforce.
Staff will take the feedback received through these stakeholder calls to put together a series of recommendations for the incoming Biden education team. They also promised an open-door policy to the new administration and offered us the ability to serve in an advisory role on issues of education and STEM over the coming four years. While the first 100 days for the Biden-Harris administration will be focused on addressing the pandemic and economic recovery, we are confident that having these early conversations will help us to have greater impact on issues of importance to women in STEM.