May 11, 2005

Wyden, Allen Accept Call to Break Down Barriersfor Women and Girls in Math, Hard Science Fields

Senators say Federal Title IX law must be enforced for progress; of programming;studies show cooperation with U.S. Department of Education will be key

Washington, DC U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and George Allen (R-Va.) today accepted a call from more than 6,000 women scientists, engineers, educators and others to push Congress to break down barriers to women and girls who could enter and excel in math and hard science fields such as engineering and physics. The call was issued in a letter delivered to the Senators by groups representative of women in these fields (listed below), and included a call for investigative and legislative action on the part of the Congress to ensure that girls and women are given equal opportunity under Federal law. Wyden and Allen, both former chairs of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, have long been advocates for equal opportunity in education and the professional realm in math and science.Now is the time to use every tool available to make sure America reaps the benefits of the best possible workforce of scientists and engineers, and I believe that the enforcement of Title IX in math and science is the right way to start, said Wyden. Equal opportunity in math and science will benefit not just the women who enter the professions, but all Americans through our technological leadership and our national security.I want the U.S. to be the leader in innovation! But the stats tell a different story. With other countries graduating over 100,000 engineers each year and the U.S. graduating only 30,000 to 60,000 we are at a serious competitive disadvantage in the future, said Allen. This means we risk falling behind designing and developing the new technological innovations, intellectual property, and inventions of the future. We cannot afford to cut out half of our population, the female population, as we recruit our best and brightest students for engineering and science studies and careers.Key organizers and speakers at todays event included Carol Muller, CEO and founder of MentorNet, a national leader in helping women enter the fields of science andengineering; Jocelyn Samuels of the National Womens Law Center; and Dr. DonnaJ. Nelson of the University of Oklahoma and the Diversity in Science Association. To read the text of their letter and link to information on their organizations efforts, visit or 2004 GAO report requested by Wyden and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) found that only the Department of Education had conducted any compliance reviews in recent years to ensure enforcement of Title IX, the Federal law requiring equal treatment of girls and women at any institution receiving Federal funding. At other agencies such as NASA, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation (NSF), little or no effort was being made to assure compliance with Title IX requirements for grantees receiving federal dollars. Wyden noted that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings indicated to him this week that she is working on an interagency basis to increase Title IX compliance reviews at NASA, the Department of Energy and the NSF, and will work with Congress to increase national awareness of the issue.Signatories and supporters of todays call to Congress included members of the National Womens Law Center, the Association for Women in Science, the Society of Women Engineers, the Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network, the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists, Engineers Week, the Center for Women in Information Technology, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, Girls Inc., the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and numerous other organizations.