Opening Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to More Women
As we celebrate Women's History Month, I couldn't be more proud to represent Western New York, the cradle of the women's rights movement. From Seneca Falls to suffrage, the women of Western New York have been extraordinary pioneers for women across the nation, and our region has led the charge to expand opportunities for women.
New York was the first state to make investments for the higher education of women and is home to the first medical college opened to women. In 1900, the University of Rochester began to admit women when they were persuaded to do so by Rochester's own Susan B. Anthony.
Over a century later, Rochester is still harboring some of the best young female minds in America, which is why I take so seriously developing opportunities for women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The gender gap in these fields is staggering. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000.While young women in law and medicine are to be commended for their great strides in recent years, we must now focus on opportunities for women in STEM fields.
On Wednesday, March 13th, I met with Dr. Jie Qiao, an exemplary scientist at University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) where she has developed cutting edge innovations for LLE's two powerful fusion lasers. The LLE is the nation's principal experiment facility for research into nuclear fusion, which, offers real potential to serve as an affordable, inexhaustible, and carbon-free energy source.
Alongside her work at LLE, Dr. Qiao has attained two patents, published over 40 papers, and went back to school to receive an MBA. Throughout her career, she recognized that there were few women advancing to high levels in private industry. As a result, she formed the WiSTEE (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship) at the University of Rochester to provide valuable mentorship opportunities to women interested in science and entrepreneurship.
Although it has only just been established, WiSTEE has the potential to be a catalyst for young women in Rochester, and across the nation. I look forward to working further with Dr. Qiao and her group in the months and years to come to continue developing opportunities for women in the STEM fields.
photo caption: Louise meets with Dr. Jie Qiao in her Capitol Office. March 13, 2013.