SWE Leadership emphasized the need to promote DE&I efforts, offer multiple avenues to access STEM careers (including community colleges and re-entry programs), and identify and prevent sexual harassment in education and workforce development programs.
For the upcoming plan, SWE highlighted three key areas for the administration to emphasize in providing guidance for the next five-year federal strategic plan for STEM education:
- The federal government should promoting DE&I practices in all areas.
- The federal government should prioritizing strategies to identify and prevent sexual harassment within STEM education programs and workforce development opportunities.
- The federal government should promoting different ways to access STEM educationincluding traditional pathways, but also dual enrollment, apprenticeships, re-entry programs, career change opportunities, etc.
One of the key topics of conversation was the importance of promoting DE&I practices at the federal level. SWE highlighted a recent letter it sent in solidarity with dozens of other STEM-focused associations opposing recent efforts against DE&I at the state level. Read on 2023 Letter to State Leaders from SWE and Partner Societies on State Level Anti-DE&I Legislation.
In the letter, SWE expressed concern about legislative language that could be interpreted as removing access to funding for student organizations and engineering education programs due to the nature of their mission, which would have far-reaching consequences. In its current form, the legislation could disenfranchise underrepresented STEM communities at the university level, which would then undermine the quality of K-12 STEM education—not to mention engineering education at all levels, the U.S. workforce and the country’s competitiveness on a global scale.
SWE strongly recommended that state legislatures not risk defunding student group organizations and higher education engineering programs supporting students of diverse backgrounds. This funding and continued support for DE&I programs is vital to ensure that underrepresented communities in STEM have equal access to resources and opportunities.
SWE also emphasized the importance of prioritizing and requiring strategies to identify and prevent sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination within STEM education programs and workforce development opportunities. Sexual harassment in STEM disproportionately affects women, students of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. SWE strongly supported the recent passage of the CHIPS Act, which includes much-needed anti-sexual harassment strategies that have long been recommended.
In addition, SWE has advocated for promoting a variety of ways to access STEM education, including traditional pathways, but also dual enrollment, transfer pathways, apprenticeships, re-entry programs, career change opportunities, etc. The organization shared the success of STEM Reentry Task Force and suggested that tax incentives through a re-entry program through the Department of Labor could help women disproportionately affected by COVID-19 quickly bring their skills back online — at a time when the country needs exactly that talent.
SWE’s continued advocacy with the White House OSTP underscores the organization’s commitment to promoting DE&I practices in STEM education and workforce development. By advocating for federal guidelines to limit funding to states that discriminate against DE&I practices, promoting strategies to identify and prevent sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination, and supporting diverse ways to access STEM education, SWE helps ensure , that underrepresented communities in STEM have equal access to resources and opportunities.
Each year, the organization brings over 100 engineers to Washington, DC to advocate for policies that advance the engineering and technology profession. To further this effort, SWE is also a part of STEM Equity Alliance, STEM ED Coalitionand ERA Coalition.
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