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CLARKE INTRODUCES H.RES.230 DESIGNATING MARCH 2021 AS EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON BLACK WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MONTH

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) introduced H.Res.230 to designate March of 2021 as Eddie Bernice Johnson Black Women in Science and Technology Month: 

Historical discriminations against women and minorities have created barriers within STEM fields. In the face of this, women of color overwhelmingly contribute to groundbreaking discoveries in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These women are experts in their fields and are disproportionately responsible for the success of their organizations and institutions. Educated women who defied constraints rose to the top of their respective fields and accomplished great things. From Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, whose work allowed a man to walk on the moon, to Dr. Marie M. Daly, who received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947, becoming the first Black woman in America to do so. These women are examples of the incredible scientific achievements of Black women in the fields of science and technology.

Many women of color are now being acknowledged for their contributions to STEM. Organizations are encouraging women of color to pursue STEM careers to continue making advanced discoveries to improve the future of STEM. Annual conferences such as the U.S. Women of Color STEM Conference host events to help women navigate their careers and network. Universities are also encouraging women of color to pursue STEM majors and careers. Despite these recent developments, disparities based on race and sex exist at every level of education; from implicit bias in elementary schools affecting Black student performance in High School, where Black students make up only nine percent of enrollment in AP courses, to only 1% of all doctoral STEM degrees being conferred on Black women. These disparities alone are not the issue; they are a symptom of a failure to provide Black students the means to unlock their scientific potential. Resulting in statistics such as Black men and women-only holding five percent of managerial positions in STEM. As popular social media movements like #BlacksInSTEM prove, the need for representation and community is critical in ensuring Black women are in a position to flourish.

Minimizing the disparities women of color face in the technology sector requires a multifaceted approach with comprehensive partnerships between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. In New York’s 9th District, organizations like NPower lead the charge in advancing race and gender equity in STEM. Through training programs, mentorships, and a ceaseless commitment to inclusivity, organizations, and lawmakers dedicated to the cause of diversifying not only Brooklyn’s technology sector but also America’s will allow the US to meet its STEM demands and lead the world into an equitable, fair future.

“March is Women’s History Month. It is a time to commemorate the role countless women have played in pushing our country forward and honor every woman for the vital role she plays in making our society a better place for all. As we celebrate women’s history in March 2021, we must always remember any conversation about advancing women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is incomplete without looking at the unique career barriers experienced by Black women in these fields,” said Clarke. “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was elected as the first African American and first female Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives in December in 2010. Since 2019, she has served as Chairwoman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives. She has long championed STEM education and Black women in the science and technology fields. Overcoming the disparities Black women face in STEM is not an overnight process, but we will only succeed if no step is skipped getting there. That includes recognizing the incredible, invaluable achievements of Black women in STEM throughout American history. That includes propping up champions of STEM like Congresswoman Johnson. Because representation matters.”

“I am grateful to my dear friend and colleague in the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, for considering me worthy of this honor. As a young Black girl from Waco, Texas, interested in STEM education, I could never have imagined a month dedicated to the representation of minority women in Science and Technology bearing my name,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. “As the first woman and first African American Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have been a fierce advocate for the participation of minority women and girls in STEM-related fields – for the overall well-being and success of future generations depends on it.”

The full bill text can be found here

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Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration, a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a Senior Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.