President Donald Trump has signed two laws aimed at encouraging women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and entrepreneurship careers: the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and the INSPIRE Act.
The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act authorizes the National Science Foundation to support entrepreneurial programs aimed at women.
The topic of women in technology has inched to the forefront over the past few years -- and that includes the health IT realm.
While women account for about 47 percent of the workforce in the U.S., however, they make up only 25.6 percent of computer and math occupations, and 15.4 percent of architecture and engineering occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women earn 18 percent of computer science degrees.
“Today only one in four women who gets a STEM degree is working in a STEM job, which is not fair and it’s not even smart that people are not taking advantage of it,” Trump said. “It’s unacceptable that we have so many American women who have these degrees yet are not being employed in these industries. I think that’s going to change and it’s going to change very rapidly.”
The INSPIRE Act, for its part, directs NASA to promote STEM fields to women and girls and to encourage women to pursue careers in aerospace.
INSPIRE is an acronym for Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers.
The law gives NASA just three months to come up with a program that makes astronauts, scientists and engineers available for classroom presentations that highlight the benefits of STEM to K-12 girls studying science, technology, engineering and math.
Several women attended the signing ceremony, including Rep. Barbara Comstock, who introduced the INSPIRE Act, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
Trump said more policies concerning women in the workforce are needed.
"That's really going to be addressed by my administration over the years with more and more of these bills coming out to address the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and by those in STEM fields," he said.