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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut

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Two Esty-Authored Bills to Support Women in the Sciences Pass the House Unanimously

January 11, 2017
Press Release
Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and INSPIRE Women Act now head to the Senate

For video of Esty’s floor remarks, visit https://youtu.be/vdgLl5FPxDQ.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two bills authored jointly by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) passed the U.S. House of representatives yesterday with broad support from both parties. Both bills aim to help women launch careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields where they are underrepresented and encourage women to start their own STEM-focused small businesses.

Both H.R. 255, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, and H.R. 321, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act, passed the House by unanimous voice vote. The bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

“Americans overwhelmingly agree that we need more middle-class jobs, better support for aspiring small-business owners, and fewer barriers to participation in the 21st century economy,” Esty said. “The passage of these bills is an excellent step toward building a stronger, more inclusive economy – in Connecticut and throughout the United States – and helping women from all walks of life break into fields where they are underrepresented.”

“The Jackson Laboratory continues to support Congresswoman Esty’s efforts to broaden participation in science through this legislation,” said Melanie V. Sinche, Director of Education at The Jackson Laboratory in Farmington. “The focus of The Jackson Laboratory remains steadfast on the education and training of a diverse scientific workforce, creating an inclusive environment for women and other groups historically underrepresented in science.”

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act improves federal support for women entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Specifically, the bill expands the mission of the National Science Foundation to include supporting entrepreneurial programs for women that extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.
The INSPIRE Women Act calls on NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aerospace. In particular, it directs NASA to encourage women to enter the STEM fields through three existing programs: NASA Girls, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.

“In spite of the division and partisanship that dominates today’s news cycle, there are still those of us working together, in a bipartisan way, to overcome the challenges the American people are facing,” Esty added. “I’m proud to see the House come together to support our legislation, and I’m hopeful the Senate will swiftly pass both bills so that President-elect Trump can sign them into law shortly after he takes office.”

In addition to Esty and Comstock, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the Science and Technology Committee, helped introduce both bills.

Esty, a member of the House Science and Technology Committee, has made improving STEM education and expanding access to high-tech careers a focus throughout her four years in office. Two years ago, she convened a Connecticut STEM Advisory Board comprised of educators, workers, and industry leaders to identify strategies for strengthening the state’s high-tech workforce and connect more students with career opportunities in the STEM fields.

In 2015, Esty partnered with Smith to pass the STEM Education Act, which supports training for STEM teachers and includes computer science for the first time as a focus of STEM education initiatives. President Obama signed the STEM Education Act into law.

Last year, Esty worked with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) to pass the Manufacturing Universities Act, which would help institutions like the University of Connecticut with existing manufacturing programs to increase the number of joint education projects they undertake with manufacturing firms and support students who participate in apprenticeships with manufacturers. President Obama signed the Manufacturing Universities Act into law last month as part of the National Defense Reauthorization Act.

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