Girls in STEM to take center stage at White House Science Fair

BY Elizabeth Jones  May 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM EST
President Obama studies a student's 2010 White House Science Fair submission. Photo by Matt Blum/Flickr

President Obama studies a student’s 2010 White House Science Fair submission. Photo by Matt Blum/Flickr

Next Tuesday, students from around the country are headed to the 2014 White House Science Fair hosted by President Barack Obama. In an effort to address gender gaps in scientific research and careers, this year’s fair will focus on girls and women who are excelling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics–known widely in the education community as STEM.

Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, filling only 24 percent of available jobs. But women in science and technology jobs earn on average 33 percent more than in other non-tech fields, according to the Department of Commerce’s “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation” report.

Even more underrepresented are minority women who make up less than one in ten employed scientists and engineers according to the National Girls Collaborative Project. Also according to the NGCP, the rates of science and engineering education gender disparities don’t begin to emerge until after high school.

The first White House Science Fair began in 2010 after President Obama launched his Educate to Innovate campaign to encourage students to excell in math and science in an effort make America an overall more globally competitive workforce.

“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” said President Obama in his announcement. “That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM education over the next decade a national priority,” he continued.

Learn more about the annual White House Science Fair and take a look at some of the innovative projects students put together in previous years.

Also, check out our rich collection of profiles on exciting STEM careers to get students excited about a future in STEM.

This story and PBS NewsHour education coverage are part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.