As a vehicle for greater discussion on issues related to women in engineering and STEM, SWE posed questions to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Democrat; Donald Trump, Republican; Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party; and Gary Johnson, Libertarian. Responses were received from the Trump and Clinton campaigns in fall 2016. As a service to our members and readership, printed verbatim below is the Trump campaign’s response. All responses received are posted on SWE’s All Together site.
1. According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, more girls are taking classes like pre-calculus and advanced biology during high school than male students. However, a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, titled, “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation,” shows that underrepresentation of women in the STEM workforce has remained stubbornly steady over the last decade. As President of the United States, how do you plan to address the need to identify and nurture interest in the STEM fields among women and to create more opportunity for them in the STEM workforce, STEM faculty positions, and labs?
The Constitutional mandate for the President of the United States is to ensure that the laws of the land are enforced to the best of his or her ability. I intend to do just that. As President, I will provide a vision for the future of this nation that will provide opportunities for all our citizens to maximize their individual potential. This potential must be determined by individual effort and desire. Our free market system works well, especially with less government interference rather than more regulation or efforts to control our economy at the federal level.
Our shortages in STEM educated individuals really begins in the home. Children must have the windows of opportunity opened for them in their homes and in their schools. Children must be given encouragement to pursue what they are interested in. We cannot dictate who takes what or who pursues what course of study. If we provide the best possible educational outcomes for our children, we will have more than enough individuals pursuing studies in STEM. To the extent the level of participation of women in STEM professions is due to discrimination against specific individuals, I will strongly enforce the laws on the books that rightly prohibit such discrimination. However, I also support women freely making their own individual lifestyle choices regarding work, family, and children without government interference.
2. Knowing that some of the 21st Century’s most ubiquitous devices (the iPad, the Internet, and countless others) have come from discoveries funded by federal research dollars, what do you think the appropriate role of the federal government is in supporting the country’s research enterprise? Further, what is your position on S. 3084, the bipartisan American Innovation and Competitiveness Act recently passed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation? And, what do you think of the bill’s House counterpart, H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, and the research and STEM education communities’ concerns about its partisan approach to updating federal research and STEM education investments?
As President, I will consider any legislation that comes to my desk and will make sure that its intent and content are in the best interest of America. NASA, NSF and other federal science-based research have added to both human knowledge and technological advances. However, with the doubling of our national debt from $10 trillion, accumulated over the last 230 years, to over $10 trillion more in just the last eight years, making the total national debt more than $20 trillion, the federal government will need to determine the most cost effective priorities for spending taxpayer funds on science.
3. For the past thirty-six years, Title IX has been applicable to all educational programs that receive federal funds, not just gender equity in collegiate athletics. Sadly, there are indications that this law has not been evenly enforced by all federal agencies nor adhered to by all educational institutions, as intended. A December 2015 Government Accountability Office report validated this concern, as two of the six agencies GAO reviewed that fund STEM research at universities—Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—are not even conducting required Title IX compliance reviews. As President, how would you seek to ensure that Title IX is evenly applied to all sectors of academia and the federal government, including STEM faculty departments and federal research awards, versus simply athletic programs?
As President, I will ensure that all departments and agencies that comprise the Executive Branch will comply with current law. All students, female as well as male, deserve an equal opportunity to achieve at school, and at work once they graduate.
4. This summer, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the propriety of the University of Texas’ consideration of race in admissions. Research shows policies such as UT’s have helped establish more opportunities for women and minorities while improving the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in educational institutions and in workplaces. What is your position on these affirmative action initiatives?
My obligation will be to uphold the law of the land and I will do that. Currently, Affirmative Action in reaching out to minority and other underrepresented groups is supported in both statute and judicial precedent.
5. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has several programs that seek to broaden participation in the STEM fields, e.g., the ADVANCE program. As President, what are your plans to strengthen broadening efforts such as this one and increasing diversity in STEM education and professions?
I will work with my administration and with Congress to ensure that we come to mutual agreement on the priorities for this country. We will proceed on that basis. We must first ensure that our economy grows so that the resources will be available. Without growth in the economy, requests for increased funding are not supportable. All children should be encouraged and given the opportunity to pursue their interests as far as their God-given talents and hard work will take them.
6. On average, women bear more of the family caregiving responsibilities than men. States such as California, Washington, and New Jersey have implemented paid family leave policies that provide partially paid leave for employees who need to care for seriously ill family members, newborns, and adoptive or foster children. However, federal employees were not able to take advantage of similar benefits until 2015, when President Obama expanded paid sick and family leave for federal contractor workers. What do you believe is the responsibility of the federal government with regard to paid family leave and equal pay?
I have proposed such policies in my campaign and will make sure that such policies are considered as part of our efforts to strengthen America. I have recently proposed six weeks maternity leave after birth for the mothers of newborn infants. Other changes to our 1930s era workplace laws could make it easier for both mothers and fathers to better balance the needs of work and family. For instance, federal employees have enjoyed work schedule flexibility for over 30 years that private sector workers have not enjoyed that could serve as a model for improvements in this area for all workers.
Excerpted from “A Q&A with the 2016 Presidential Candidates” first published in SWE Magazine.