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Trump once again floats the idea of being president beyond two terms. Also on the Monday rundown: A new national report ranks children's well-being, from coast to coast; and a Family Care Act gains support.

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Thousands of Women in Science, Technology Sign Letter to Trump

A letter to President Donald Trump asks that he promote science education, and champion policies that allow more women to pursue scientific careers. (500womenscientists)
A letter to President Donald Trump asks that he promote science education, and champion policies that allow more women to pursue scientific careers. (500womenscientists)
February 20, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A movement that started among friends concerned about how women were sometimes labeled and treated during the presidential campaign has turned into an effort to empower young girls, and steer them toward careers in science and technology.

The group 500 Women Scientists began when four female scientists expressed their worries to each other.

They reached out to friends and colleagues with the goal of getting 500 to sign a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to honor his pledge to be "a president for everyone."

They've collected nearly 17,000 signatures.

Mallory Conlon, who has a master's degree in astronomy at the University of Illinois, says she signed the letter because diversity is crucial to science.

"We see when science thrives, technology can advance and the world that we live in becomes a healthier, safer and more productive place,” she states. “So, by getting those new voices, we can really advance science and not necessarily be stuck in a status quo."

The letter, published in Forbes magazine, contains several suggestions, including appointing accredited science advisers in government to promote evidence-based policy; protecting the environment, clean air and water; making science education a priority from pre-K to college; and putting policies in place that lead to equal pay for women.

Nichole Barger, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Colorado, says there are many who are still concerned about Trump's election, but she's convinced that can be turned into something positive.

"I think what we're seeing is more engagement of girls and women in science,” she states. “And I think there was a feeling that it could be set back, but I think what we're seeing is a surge forward of interest."

A co-founder of 500 Women Scientists, Jane Zelikova, says the group is urging communities to start mentoring programs for young women and girls.

"That's one way we can ensure that the younger generations that have been feeling like they're not welcome in science have mentors that look like them, that they can look up to and actually work with to further their own interest in science and eventually, make science a career," she states.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL