CHAPTER 239

 

An Act establishing a STEM outreach program and supplementing chapter 6 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

C.18A:3B-99† Findings, declaration relative to STEM outreach program.

†††† 1.††† The Legislature finds and declares that:

†††† a.†††† The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field has become extremely important for the success of the innovation economy both in New Jersey and the United States, and STEM education is critical in developing a globally competitive workforce in the 21st century.

†††† b.††† Despite the increasing demand for workers with experience in STEM, women and minority groups are largely underrepresented in the STEM workforce and in STEM education at the post-secondary level.

†††† c.†††† According to the National Science Foundationís Science and Engineering Indicators for 2016, women comprised only 29 percent of the science and engineering workforce, despite making up half of the total college-educated workforce in the United States.

†††† d.††† The gender gap in the national STEM workforce is also evidenced in New Jersey as women made up only 25.1 percent of the Stateís STEM workforce in October 2018, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

†††† e.†††† Although women comprise more than half of the nationís college students, they are underrepresented in many STEM-related post-secondary degree programs, especially in engineering and the computer sciences.

†††† f.†††† Racial and ethnic minorities are similarly underrepresented in the STEM field as Hispanics, blacks, and Native Americans/Alaska Natives make up a smaller share of the science and engineering workforce (11 percent) than their proportion in the general population (27 percent of the United States working age 33 population).

†††† g.††† In 2012, only 11.2 percent of bachelorís degrees in science and engineering, 8.2 percent of masterís degrees in science and engineering, and 4.1 percent of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women.

†††† h.††† Encouraging young women and minorities to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in STEM professions and increasing opportunities in the STEM field are important means for realizing greater economic innovation, success, and equality.

 

C.18A:3B-100† Outreach program for young women and minorities to pursue degrees, careers in STEM.

†††† 2.††† a. †The Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology, shall develop and administer an outreach program to encourage young women and minorities to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

†††† b.††† The department, in developing and administering the outreach program, shall:

†††† (1)†† provide elementary and secondary school students, especially young women and minorities, with opportunities to increase their exposure to the STEM field;

†††† (2)†† distribute various printed materials to schools, encouraging young women and minorities to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in STEM;

†††† (3)†† organize and conduct mentoring sessions, in which individuals working or pursuing a post-secondary degree in the STEM field engage with elementary and secondary school students;

†††† (4)†† establish a mentoring program that partners STEM professionals and STEM post-secondary students with elementary and secondary school students;

†††† (5)†† create programs to increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty in STEM subject areas; and

†††† (6)†† undertake any other activities the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education and the chair of the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology, deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of the outreach program.

For purposes of this act, STEM shall include, but not be limited to, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science.

 

†††† 3.††† This act shall take effect 30 days after enactment.

 

†††† Approved September 28, 2021.