WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced Thursday (Aug 4) that the National Science Foundation has awarded $1,099,959 to the University of Hawaii (UH) to support the advancement of women and minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at its seven community colleges.
“Developing a strong, diverse STEM workforce is critical to Hawaii’s future economic viability and our nation’s long-term competitiveness on the global stage,” said Senator Hirono. “By supporting STEM women and minority faculty, this funding will promote a more diverse faculty on Hawaii’s college campuses and in turn will create a greater more encouraging learning environment for all of our students – strengthening our STEM workforce pipeline.”
While STEM educations and careers often lead to higher paying job opportunities, it is currently predicted there will be a job shortage in STEM-related fields. The project seeks to identify and address challenges to the retention and career progress of STEM women faculty of diversity.
“The UH Community Colleges system is grateful for this important federal funding,” said Suzette Robinson, Director of Academic Programs for UH Community Colleges. “Providing greater resources to train UH women faculty in STEM disciplines will further advance our commitment to building a cadre of strong, diverse role models who will serve as mentors to help develop our future STEM leaders.”
A partnership between UH Community Colleges and UH Hilo, the project will use virtual tools to connect remote island campus locations in mentoring and coaching trainings for administrators and senior faculty. The program will also implement a mentoring and coaching program for women STEM faculty of diverse race and ethnic backgrounds.
Senator Hirono has continued to advocate for federal funding to support programs that promote a strong STEM pipeline. Last year, on August 4, 2016, she convened a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee field hearing of national and local stakeholders at Maui High School, where NSF and others discussed the importance of promoting more women and minorities in the STEM workforce.
Earlier this year, Senator Hirono reintroduced her plan to improve diversity and competitiveness in the workforce by broadening participation among women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM fields. In addition, key provisions promoted by the Senator were included in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act that President Obama signed into law earlier this year, including provisions to establish Centers of Excellence to promote programs that broaden participation and provide technical assistance and other supports for federally-funded academic institutions.