Ms. ESTY. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would increase support for women in entrepreneurship at the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps, also known as the I-Corps. It has been an honor and privilege to meet with women across Connecticut who are creating and building their own startups and small businesses.
In March I hosted a Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math roundtable, bringing together educators, innovators, and business owners to identify barriers that women face when looking to advance in the critical STEM and entrepreneurial fields.
These local leaders all agreed that one of the biggest problems for women in the STEM fields is the lack of mentorship and support, and, quite simply, women do not have the same support and mentorship as their male counterparts because they are often the first women in leadership positions in their fields.
In fact, our Smaller Manufacturers Association in Connecticut just elected their first female president, Anne Strobel, and she has already hit the ground running to build on our State's strong manufacturing tradition.
National studies and experts echo the concerns women raised at the STEM roundtable in my own district. The Kauffman Foundation recently surveyed 350 female tech startup founders and found that the number one shared concern is a lack of role models and mentors for women thinking of going into business for themselves.
Recent news reports have noted the chronic underrepresentation of women [Page: H3450]
in the booming tech sector, including startups. In fact, women make up only 30 percent of the tech workforce and 22 percent of the leadership roles, despite being 60 percent of the workforce. It is clear that we must do more for women so they can build businesses and create good-paying jobs.
My amendment would provide that support to women through the NSF's Innovation Corps, known as the I-Corps, by expanding their mission to specifically include support for and investment in female entrepreneurs through mentorship, education, and training.
The I-Corps program fosters entrepreneurship by giving students the tools they need to move discoveries and technology from the research lab to the market. I-Corps is making a difference in helping teach and support entrepreneurs across the country.
In my own State, the University of Connecticut recently received I-Corps funding, and it is designated as an I-Corps site. Accelerate UConn will build on the investment the State of Connecticut is already making to ensure that they remain a leader in our national innovation ecosystem.
Our competitiveness as a nation depends on robust research and technology and on ensuring that we draw on the best and the brightest, whether they be men or women. By increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, we as a nation will all benefit from the innovation that comes from a diverse workforce.
It is not only morally right, but economically smart to foster entrepreneurship of women. I encourage all my colleagues to support my amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would add a sense of Congress of Congress' support for the NSF's Innovation Corps program in the underlying bill. This language would include the promotion of a strong innovation system with investments and support for female entrepreneurs. I-Corps is an excellent program. I support the gentlewoman's amendment and appreciate her offering it.
I reserve the balance of my time.