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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-23
April 6, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Marks Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Week

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recognized April 5 through April 11 as Women and Girls in STEM Week and urged educators, business, and community leaders to work together to increase the percentage of women, girls, and underrepresented youth in STEM fields.

"Diversity is California's strength," said Torlakson. "We should do everything we can to make sure our diversity is represented in our workforce. Our society, our businesses, and our economy succeed when we tap everyone's talents, creativity, and energy."

Torlakson has made STEM education a top priority. He created a STEM task force that issued a blueprint last year for promoting, expanding, and improving STEM education and led the California Department of Education (CDE) in sponsoring a STEM symposium in San Diego that drew more than 3,000 STEM educators, students, and business leaders. In October, the CDE is teaming up with the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation to sponsor the 2015 California STEM symposium.

Jobs in engineering, science, and other STEM fields pay more, on average, than jobs in other fields. In addition, they fuel California's economy, keeping it a global leader in technology. Yet only 15 percent of those with engineering degrees are women and only 42 percent of those who hold jobs in life sciences are women. In addition, African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented in STEM fields.

The CDE is doing its part by recruiting and encouraging female students and underrepresented youth to attend Career Pathways programs, many of which are focused on STEM-related fields.

Mentorships and internships have proven especially helpful in attracting girls and underrepresented youth to STEM. One partnership academy director started a "Girls Who Code Club" after school to encourage girls to study computer science.

"I welcome creative ideas by teachers, administrators, community, and business leaders to encourage girls and underrepresented youth to enter STEM fields," said Torlakson. "Together we can expand those efforts."

Women and Girls in STEM week was designated by Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 17, sponsored by Assembly Member Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar.

"Supporting female STEM students and researchers needs to be an essential component of California's strategy to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world," said Chang. "Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step toward realizing greater success for women across the board."

For more information, visit the CDE's Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics web page. For more information on Women and Girls in STEM Week, visit SciGirls Connect [] External link opens in new window or tab. website, and the Women in STEM [Note: the preceding link is no longer valid], Building a STEM Pipeline for Girls and Women, and Million Women Mentors STEM Mentoring Initiative [Note: the preceding links are no longer valid].

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, July 20, 2020
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