STEMM Opportunity Alliance Releases National Strategy at White House Summit

May 1, 2024

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Shelley O’Brien
202-827-9798
obrien@awis.org

STEMM Opportunity Alliance Releases National Strategy at White House Summit  

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is one of the 200+ Cross-Sector Partners 
Committed to Diversifying and Expanding STEMM Workforce by 2050

WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2024 – Today, the STEMM Opportunity Alliance (SOA) announced STEMM Equity and Excellence 2050: A National Strategy for Progress and Prosperity at the 2024 White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence, co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The overarching goal of the national strategy is to help 20 million people from historically excluded and marginalized communities enter, contribute to, and thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical (STEMM) fields.  

SOA is a nationwide initiative committed to tapping America’s culturally rich, innovative, and diverse talent pool to expand the STEMM workforce. Along with unveiling the national strategy, SOA announced that its partners, which have more than doubled in size since the December 2022 launch (200+), have collectively committed more than $2 billion to realize the vision of the national strategy. 

“America’s diversity of thought, derived from our diversity of geography, background and identity, is one of our nation’s strongest assets,” said Sudip Parikh, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “Growing the STEMM workforce to its greatest potential enables us to create a world where every child, regardless of their background, sees participation in STEMM as their birthright.”

Each SOA partner has aligned new or existing commitments and projects under the metrics laid out in the national strategy, all committing to multi-lateral, cross-sector collaboration to achieve systems-level change. Additionally, SOA announced 10 organizations to serve as anchor partners, each of whom will facilitate working groups within the strategy’s foundations, five pillars, and capstone. The anchor partners will build strong networks, drive toward ambitious, measurable goals, and realign SOA partners’ support, systems and accountability measures.

A strategic overview of the foundations, pillars, and capstone includes: 

  • Foundations: Accountability and Partnership is focused on developing systems and processes for tracking SOA partners’ and national progress toward key success metrics, holding partners accountable for their commitments and building infrastructure for cross-sector coordination and collaboration. Anchor partner: American Institutes for Research
  • Pillar 1: Engagement, focused on nurturing curiosity in every child, will work to ensure all schools provide high-quality STEMM coursework and provide children and families equitable access to STEMM learning experiences. Anchor partners: STEM Next and Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM.AWIS will support Meet the Scientist events at 10-12 museums and science centers to expose students (especially girls) to STEMM careers and role models. These events will be associated with MacGillivary Freeman Films’ Spring 2024 release of a new film for IMAX and giant-screen theaters called Superhuman Body: World of Medical Marvels.
  • Pillar 2: Inspiration, focused on developing skilled and diverse educators, will end the shortage of STEMM pre-K-12 educators and work to diversify the STEMM educator workforce. Anchor partner: AWIS will run a social media campaign inviting students, parents, and colleagues to thank a science teacher for the positive impact they made/make on students and society in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week. This program will aim to highlight diverse educators, demonstrate the value of science teachers, and increase public support for the teaching profession. Acknowledging their contributions will help retain science teachers and help encourage other science enthusiasts to consider becoming teachers. AWIS will promote the campaign through social media and seek partners such as the National Science Teaching Association to help publicize #BecauseTeachers.
  • Pillar 3: Discovery, focused on creating opportunity for all in higher education, will ensure higher education programs are designed to support the talent development of all people and create systems and policies that will support the development and retention of STEMM faculty from historically excluded and marginalized populations. Anchor partners: Oak Ridge Associated Universities and University Innovation Alliance. AWIS has established a First-Generation Scholarship for 2024. Up to four scholarships of $2,000 will be awarded to college undergraduates in their Freshman through Junior year whose parents and/or guardians did not complete a four-year college degree and whose field of study is one of the sciences recognized by the National Science Foundation. To ensure a diverse pool of candidates, AWIS social media ads target Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, and community colleges. AWIS also offers a Career-Reentry Scholarship to assist women who have been out of the workforce for a year get training, technology, childcare, etc. to facilitate a return to STEMM. AWIS scholarship applications are open December-February 29. Recipients are chosen by a committee of AWIS volunteers. Winners will be notified in May and announced in June. These awards will help reduce the financial burden placed on women STEM students, increase their sense of belonging and mental health indicators, help advance women in STEMM, and increase gender equity. 
  • Pillar 4: Innovation, focused on leveraging diverse minds in research and development, will ensure researchers from historically excluded and marginalized communities receive equitable opportunities and support and encourage entities across the R&D ecosystem to implement equity. Anchor partners: Morgan State University and Spelman College
  • Pillar 5: Opportunity, focused on ensuring all workers thrive, will remove barriers for historically excluded and marginalized communities to enter and succeed in STEMM workplaces and ensure all workplaces feel supportive of historically excluded and marginalized communities. Anchor partner: Jobs for the Future. AWIS will continue to offer a 90-day experiential learning program called The Inclusion Habit® that helps participants establish more inclusive behaviors. The cohort is taught to identify and counteract biases by thinking more slowly. Participants receive daily reminders and activities called micro-commitments which help them practice what they have learned and help build empathy for others. The program also includes a social element with gamification to provide accountability and foster a sense of community. The program developer, Dr. Amanda Felkey, measures the employees’ sense of belonging and the extent to which they feel valued, included, and connected before and after the program. Arizona State University completed a pilot engagement in December that showed a statistically significant impact on the group’s sense of belongingness. AWIS will develop a case study to showcase the ASU results and aims to engage 10 additional schools or employers in the program this year. 
  • Capstone: Strategic Communications will ensure demographics of STEMM professionals depicted in entertainment are consistent with the demographics of the country and effectively illustrate the importance of diverse perspectives in achieving excellence in STEMM. Anchor partner: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

“For over five decades, the Association for Women in Science has championed the interests of women in science and advocate for inclusive spaces – but there is still much work to be done,” said Meredith Gibson, AWIS CEO. “AWIS has joined the STEMM Opportunity Alliance and will continue to facilitate pathways to and through STEM for all women and girls, work with organizations to foster safe and inclusive spaces, and advocate for the dismantling of systemic barriers and inequities that continue to hinder the progress of women and historically marginalized communities in STEM.”

SOA launched in December 2022 at the first-ever White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence with founding partners AAAS and the Doris Duke Foundation. In its first year, SOA engaged more than 1,500 cross-sector leaders and community members around the nation to co-construct the national strategy. SOA hosted 12 in-person convenings across the country, five virtual town hall sessions and a written comment period to co-develop the strategy, which is rooted in the lived experiences of those doing the important work to achieve greater equity in STEMM. 

At the 2024 White House Summit on STEMM Equity and Excellence, leaders in science, government, education and industry gathered at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to celebrate the national strategy launch, reflect on the co-construction process and reaffirm commitments for the next phase. The day-long summit also included panels with national leaders like Dr. Arati Prabhakar, director of OSTP and assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and breakout sessions by pillar.  

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The STEMM Opportunity Alliance is a national effort by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), with the support from the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF), dedicated to building a STEMM ecosystem rooted in equity, inclusion, and scientific excellence to power progress, innovation and prosperity for all by 2050. This effort brings together organizations and entities from across sectors and scientific communities that are committed to developing and advancing a national strategy for achieving shared goals for equity in STEMM. View all partner commitments in the STEMM Equity and Excellence 2050: A National Strategy for Progress and Prosperity.

About AWIS: Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors. In addition to scholarships, AWIS provides career resources, professional development, as well as networking, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities to build leadership skills. To learn more, visit awis.org and @AWISNational.