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Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

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Women in Science Speak Out in Letter to Trump

Thousands of women scientists have sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for equality. (500womenscientists.org)
Thousands of women scientists have sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for equality. (500womenscientists.org)
February 20, 2017

BALTIMORE – 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.

Penny Rheingans, director of the Center for Women and Technology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, says she's encouraged by the level of public engagement since the election, but is finding it hard to see a silver lining.

"I look at the students that I work with and the impressive things that they're doing, and the good that they can do in our society, and I feel like they're all targeted – and their options and their opportunities limited – and that makes me very sad for our country," she states.

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 - MD