Stefanik’s early childhood grant programs for girls pass House as part of STEM bill

The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved a bipartisan science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) proposal that included a measure coauthored by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) aiming to get girls interested in computer science activities.

The Code Like a Girl Act, H.R. 3316, a bipartisan bill Stefanik introduced on July 19, 2017 with U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), had been incorporated into the larger Building Blocks of STEM Act, H.R. 3397, which the House passed on Feb. 13.

“Computer science professionals are needed in almost every industry and field, and it’s critical that we ensure young women have the skills they need to pursue these exciting careers,” Rep. Stefanik said.

H.R. 3316 would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award competitive grants to institutions of higher education, local educational agencies or nonprofit organizations to quickly determine through research why girls under the age of 11 will or won’t participate in STEM activities, including those related to computer science, according to a congressional record summary.

H.R. 3316 also would create a second NSF grant program to develop and evaluate interventions in pre-kindergarten and elementary school classrooms aimed at raising these girls’ interest in computer science pursuits, according to Stefanik’s office.

H.R. 3316 had 36 cosponsors in addition to Stefanik, including U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Susan Brooks (R-IN).

A related bill, S. 1968, was introduced on Oct. 17, 2017 in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) that is under consideration by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Meanwhile, the House-approved Building Blocks of STEM Act, which Rep. Rosen also introduced in July 2017 along with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Stephen Knight (R-CA), would instruct NSF to consider age distribution to more equitably allocate funding for research studies focused on early childhood when awarding grants under its Discovery Research PreK-12 program, according to a congressional record summary. The bill now advances to the Senate for consideration.

“I’m pleased to see this legislation pass that includes language I coauthored to encourage more young girls to pursue careers in computer science,” Rep. Stefanik said.