OSTP stands for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The OSTP is tasked with providing the President and his senior staff with advice on the scientific and technological aspects of all issues before them and ensuring that Federal investments in science and technology (S&T) are making the greatest possible contribution to economic prosperity, public health, environmental quality, and national security.

Last week, OSTP released its Exit Memo for the incoming administration. The memo focused on three main areas – highlights of President Obama’s leadership in the areas of scientific discovery and technological innovation, a summary of the S&T frontiers that American enterprise will advance in the future, and a request for all Americans to work on 10 Actions that will drive continued innovation and progress across those frontiers.

The 10 Actions covered a variety of topics from recruiting top S&T talent in the federal government to supporting entrepreneurs to increasing access to high-quality STEM education.  Depending upon your job, several of the Actions might be hard to contribute to, but the one Action that is relatively easy for any American to impact is Action 5 - Improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Mitigate the Impacts of Bias.

With Action 5, the OSTP makes the point that innovation is fortified by tapping into the unparalleled diversity of the American people and the diversity of ideas that they generate. The Office emphasizes that diversity on teams leads to better outcomes and calls on us to draw upon a diverse community in building a STEM workforce for the 21st century. Finally, the OSTP shares that popular entertainment media can influence the public’s perceptions of STEM fields and careers with the use of diverse and compelling STEM images, stories, and positive messages.

The last part of Action 5 is especially pertinent to those in education. You can support this Action by paying attention to the examples of scientists, engineers, mathematicians or technologists that you share during your lessons. You can make sure that the images you share or the guest speakers you invite into the classroom are diverse in gender, ethnicity, and age. For non-educators, you can vote with your eyeballs! Select media options that show a diverse set of individuals in STEM and leadership positions and avoid programming that perpetuates stereotypes.

This Action is particularly important to Couragion - our company was built with the goal of boosting the number and diversity of individuals that pursue STEM careers.  We know that in order for a diverse audience to believe that they are capable of succeeding in STEM, they need to see role models that reflect their own gender and ethnicity. Today, 87% of our STEM role models are underrepresented in STEM and we plan to continue this diversity focus as we move forward. 

What can you do to positively support OSTP’s Action 5? To learn more about Action 5, and the other elements of OSTP’s Exit Memo, visit the White House website.

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