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“Lighting the spark for science”

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke yesterday at a National Science Foundation event highlighting new initiatives to give greater flexibility to working parents and bring women and girls into “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

“[I]f we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, then we have to open doors to everyone. We can't afford to leave anyone out. We need all hands on deck. And that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. And it starts with lighting the spark for science and math in elementary school and grade school.

“And so encouraging girls early not to lose heart in those fields, and encouraging them through high school, is important. But it also means making sure that these young women can keep pursuing their dreams in college and beyond.

“And so often, it’s working women who struggle to juggle their careers while caring for young children or an aging parent. That means it’s tougher for them to rise to positions of leadership. It means that the highest rungs of the career ladder are sometimes out of reach.

“And too often in STEM fields, it means giving up on those careers entirely. But if we take some practical, common-sense steps, we can keep these women in the STEM pipeline where we so desperately need them.”

For more information on the NSF initiatives, check out the White House blog.

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