President Donald Trump today signed into law two pieces of legislation authored jointly by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA).
   The two measures, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) and the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (H.R. 321), had passed the House and the Senate by unanimous consent, with support from both parties. The new laws will help women launch careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields where they are underrepresented and will encourage women to start their own STEM-focused small businesses.
   “No matter how contentious or passionate our political disagreements may get, as representatives for the American people, we must never stop working toward common solutions that will improve people’s lives,” Esty said. “Americans overwhelmingly agree that we need more middle-class jobs, better support for aspiring small-business owners, and fewer barriers to participation in the 21st-century economy. The passage of our two bipartisan bills is an excellent step forward that will grow our economy and help women from all walks of life break into fields where they have been underrepresented.”
   “The Jackson Laboratory continues to support Congresswoman Esty’s efforts to broaden participation in science through this legislation,” said Melanie V. Sinche, Director of Education at The Jackson Laboratory in Farmington. “The focus of The Jackson Laboratory remains steadfast on the education and training of a diverse scientific workforce, creating an inclusive environment for women and other groups historically underrepresented in science.”
   The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, introduced by Esty and co-authored by Comstock, improves federal support for women entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Specifically, the bill expands the mission of the National Science Foundation to include supporting entrepreneurial programs for women that extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. It is the first bill introduced by a Democrat that President Trump has signed into law.
   The INSPIRE Women Act, introduced by Comstock and co-authored by Esty, calls on NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aerospace. In particular, it directs NASA to encourage women to enter the STEM fields through three existing programs: NASA Girls, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.
   In addition to Esty and Comstock, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
   Esty, a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has made improving STEM education and expanding access to high-tech careers a focus throughout her four years in office. Two years ago, she convened a Connecticut STEM Advisory Board comprised of educators, workers, and industry leaders to identify strategies for strengthening the state’s high-tech workforce and connect more students with career opportunities in the STEM fields.
   In 2015, Esty partnered with Smith to pass the STEM Education Act, which supports training for STEM teachers and includes computer science for the first time as a focus of STEM education initiatives. Former President Barack Obama signed the STEM Education Act into law.
   Last year, Esty worked with Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) to pass the Manufacturing Universities Act, which would help institutions like the University of Connecticut with existing manufacturing programs to increase the number of joint education projects they undertake with manufacturing firms and support students who participate in apprenticeships with manufacturers. Former President Barack Obama signed the Manufacturing Universities Act into law in December as part of the National Defense Reauthorization Act.