Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Commerce Blog
Yesterday, I met with women who are fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in our economy through their leadership at top venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.
We discussed the need for more girls and women to be able to find opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where women comprise less than one-fourth of the workforce. We also discussed how women are investing in and leading startups and businesses in key areas that support U.S. competitiveness, such as clean energy, healthcare, telecommunications, bioscience, and other fast-growing fields.
It's clear that women investors play a crucial role in helping ensure that the best private-sector ideas - including those coming from women entrepreneurs - get the resources they need to help build companies and create jobs.
Strengthening the role of women in business and technology is an important goal of the Obama Administration, supported by the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Commerce Department, for its part, offers post-doctoral research opportunities, scholarships, and unique experiences aimed at encouraging girls to consider fulfilling and rewarding careers in STEM fields.
More broadly, the Administration as a whole has launched efforts like Educate to Innovate and Race to the Top, which help inspire young people of all backgrounds to go into the high-pay, high-skilled fields of science and technology. These are key components of the President’s goal to move U.S. students from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science achievement over the next decade, and to engage girls and other students who are historically underrepresented in these fields.
It’s why the Council on Women and Girls established the Women in STEM Speakers Bureau two years ago to connect students with senior female Federal scientists and engineers, like our very own Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Jane Lubchenco and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna Gomez. And just last September, the Administration highlighted the work that the private sector has contributed towards this goal as well, like Harvey Mudd and Piazza’s groundbreaking partnership to expose 20,000 students to 500 women mentors in just a few months.
We want to help more girls and women find their own path to success - perhaps following in the footsteps of some of the role models I met this morning.
If we're successful in providing more paths for all Americans to pursue education, training, and jobs in the STEM fields, I'm confident that our nation will become even more competitive in the years ahead.
Rebecca Blank is Deputy Secretary of Commerce.