The National Science Foundation will announce new steps on Monday to promote careers for women in engineering and the sciences, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen, said in a Monday Washington Post op-ed.
Women who work in science, technology, engineering, and math, the so-called STEM fields, earn 33 percent more than women in other occupations, Jarrett and Tchen wrote. But, they added, those women—like women throughout the workforce—are often expected to start their careers as they start families, causing them to drop out of the workforce.
NSF will introduce new measures on Monday to combat this problem. The foundation will allow time lost for having a baby to be added to grant funding periods for woman researchers, for example, and in some cases will pay for technicians to keep projects and labs running through a period of parental leave.
“For many women who dream of becoming scientists and researchers, these kinds of simple, common-sense changes will make a world of difference,” Jarrett and Tchen wrote.
NSF will also support research into flexible workplace policies, which can yield lower turnover and higher productivity, according to a White House Council of Economic Advisers study.
Jarrett and Tchen also touted President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill. The American Jobs Act, they said, would prevent 280,000 teachers, mostly women, from losing their jobs; would put hundreds of thousands of unemployed women back to work; and would put more money in the pockets of working women through payroll tax cuts.