US president Donald Trump has signed two new laws that will try to boost the numbers of women and girls in STEM, after describing the current situation as unfair.
Since Donald Trump took office as the US president in January, laws and executive orders passed by the former business tycoon have received much criticism from the science community.
Most notably, his decision to impose an immediate immigration ban on seven predominantly Muslim nations sparked outrage among Silicon Valley, which has a number of nationals from those countries in its ranks.
What’s more, Trump’s position on – and denial of the effects of – climate change has resulted in a grassroots movement developing among America’s scientific community to defend its data, culminating with a march on Washington DC in April.
However, there is little disagreement with Trump’s two latest laws, which directly target boosting the numbers of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
According to CNet, the first of these laws is called the INSPIRE Act, which will require NASA to spend the next three months devising a report that will be presented to two congressional committees.
It will be asked how it plans to recruit its staff at all levels and to present itself in front of girls in school who are just starting their education in STEM subjects.
Proud to support the signing of H.R. 321 & 255. #ClosingTheGenderGap in STEM fields is vital to innovation and workforce development. #STEM pic.twitter.com/9VsIbTxDEO
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 28, 2017
‘It’s not fair and it’s not even smart’
The other law signed in by President Trump is the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, which authorises the National Science Foundation to encourage more entrepreneurial programmes to recruit and support women.
Trump signed the two laws in the Oval Office surrounded by women who supported them, including Republican representative Barbara Comstock, who introduced the bill.
It was quite a different image from the one taken when Trump signed in a previous executive order that was widely mocked around the world.
Speaking of the poor representation of women in STEM, Trump said that “it’s not fair and it’s not even smart”.
He added that he plans to introduce more laws to encourage greater diversity in affected sectors.
“That’s really going to be addressed by my administration over the years with more and more of these bills coming out [that] address the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs and by those in STEM fields,” he said.
US president Donald Trump. Image: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock