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Encouraging More Girls in STEM

Sally Ride: How her Historic Space Mission Opened Doors for Women in Science at the Smithsonian
Inspiration filled the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum today as prominent journalists, scholars, and leading women in science and aerospace spoke on Sally Rides’ accomplishments and her impact on women in STEM. We wanted to share a few remarks from the panel discussion:
“She set the forefront by highlighting women in science – her message was that women and anyone can pursue science.”
“About 50-55 astronaut women have gone into space.” It’s important for girls to study math and science and for our society to encourage and accept them in these fields. In fact, education is a key element to help all students to achieve success in the STEM workforce.  Elementary grades are the best place to start “when feeding their passions for education.”  The first step to ensuring the best education for this generation is quality teachers. “The most critical need in STEM is teacher training. We need to improve teacher training so that kids get great STEM instruction and teachers understand the importance of diversity. NMSI provides extensive teacher training to make a huge impact on students’ lives.”
NMSI has seen a “tremendous amount of success with females in our programs.”  In just the first year, we see an 84% increase in female scores of three or greater for math and science. Over three years in the AP program, we see an average percentage increase of 167% in female scores of three or greater.
Our workforce needs more Americans that are skilled in STEM. We need to focus on programs that “help fill this need” and “build our country’s future” – “making sure our kids are studying math, science, technology and engineering.” Through the UTeach program, in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin, NMSI enables students - who are majoring in STEM fields - to receive full teaching certification without adding time or cost to their degrees. The program is now in 34 universities in 16 states. 
A final thought from a panelist on advice for women in science: “Find a mentor. It’s important to have a formal mentoring program established. A mentor in #STEM is especially important for support and working towards your goals.”
We need more scientists, we need more engineers.
Tom Costello, Moderator, NBC News
 Dan Vergano, Chief Science Writer, USA Today
 Margaret Weitekamp, Ph.D., Curator, National Air and Space Museum
 Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D., Director, Johnson Space Center
Rene McCormick, Executive Director of Science Programs, National Math and Science Initiative
Linda Billings, Ph.D., Research Professor, Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University