Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25) and Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the American aerospace industry by enhancing K-12 education initiatives to promote more female participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Women in Aerospace Education Act is designed to engage girls at a young age to enter fields that have historically been male-dominated. Under existing law, Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grants are used by universities to cover the cost of STEM-degree students who go on to teach in rural or lower-income school districts. The bill would encourage universities applying for Noyce grants to incorporate aerospace engineering working and learning experiences at the National Laboratories and NASA Centers into their teacher training experience. These teachers, once certified, will then enter classrooms with first-hand knowledge of the impact aerospace projects have on our lives and share that inspiration with their students.

Additionally, the bill directs NASA to strengthen the promotion of NASA internship and fellowship programs towards women. This would not affect the selection process for these programs, but would instead focus the marketing and recruiting strategies to encourage more women to apply.

“Creating a large and diverse pool of talent for our aerospace industry just makes sense,” Knight said. “When we engage girls at a young age and show them the possibilities of careers in STEM fields, it sparks a lifelong passion for science and discovery. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Congresswoman Esty to ensure our nation remains the preeminent leader in this field by helping strengthen the future workforce.”

“Aerospace has long been a backbone of Connecticut’s economy,” said Rep. Esty. “We simply cannot meet our aerospace workforce needs unless we empower and equip more young women to enter this exciting field. We need to provide careers—not just jobs—for women in Connecticut and throughout the country, which is why I’m pleased to work with Congressman Knight on this legislation.”

The Women in Aerospace Education Act was introduced on Nov. 6, 2017.