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SWE President Discusses Closing the STEM Gap on Capitol Hill

Learn about this briefing at the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute on the challenges and solutions to increasing diversity in the STEM workforce.
Closing the STEM Gap - Speakers

On Feb. 15, SWE President Alexis McKittrick, Ph.D., joined Camille Chang Gilmore, vice president of human resources and global chief diversity, equity, and inclusion office at Boston Scientific, and Marlin Martes, senior technical business developer for Amazon Web Services, at the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute for a STEM briefing on the persistent challenges in increasing diversity in the STEM workforce.

The briefing took place in the United States House of Representatives and was hosted by the Women’s Congressional Policy Institute (WCPI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan public policy organization that seeks to bring together women policymakers to advance issues of importance to women and serves to support the Congressional Women’s Caucus. Congresswoman and Bipartisan Women’s Caucus (BWC) Vice–Chair Rep. Monica De La Cruz (R-TX), attended the briefing and applauded ongoing efforts in advocating on behalf of women in STEM.

The day’s briefing began with opening remarks from Cindy Hall, president of WCPI, who also moderated the discussion. Her remarks were followed by a powerful statement from Camille Chang Gilmore about the need to close the STEM gap. She emphasized the need for awareness of women in STEM, inclusive communities of support and role models to demonstrate the available paths, education and outreach to kids about STEM.

Marlin Martes followed and talked about her experience as the daughter of an immigrant and how that shaped her own achievements. She spoke about the benefits she enjoyed by having mentors and support networks that understood her challenges.

SWE President Discusses Closing the STEM Gap on Capitol Hill
Photo from the Feb. 15 STEM briefing which featured SWE President Alexis McKittrick

Lastly, SWE’s own Alexis McKittrick analyzed the state of the STEM gap. Only 13% of engineers in the workforce are women. Women of color account for less than 8% of engineering workers. These professional barriers also result in a median pay gap in annual earnings, with women’s earnings being 74% of that of men. Furthermore, research shows that women leave technical jobs in STEM mid-career at a rate of 51% compared to the men’s rate of 29%. With the issue clearly defined, Alexis pivoted to SWE’s ongoing efforts.

Alexis highlighted SWENext, a program for young girls in STEM meant to generate interest in STEM early. She discussed her own experiences with SWE affinity groups and how they allowed her to find her voice and community in the engineering field. She also mentioned SWE’s efforts in alleviating education’s financial burden, awarding over 330 scholarships totaling $1.5 million for women in engineering in the 2023-2024 academic year.

Alexis ended her own talk with several calls to action for Congress. These included congressional support of mid-career returnships to help reduce the number of women leaving STEM at the mid-career point via enactment of the STEM Restart Act, adequate investments in STEM education to facilitate exposure to the subjects for all K-12 students, and further investments in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), and tribal colleges to enhance STEM pathways for underrepresented minorities.

This sentiment was echoed by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), who attended the briefing and spoke on her own experience in medical school and the federal government’s many opportunities to improve STEM education.

Alexis stated clearly that only through the concerted efforts of all, including SWE, allied organizations and policymakers, can we create more pathways for women in engineering.

A recording of the briefing is available here:


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