The North Carolina House Select Committee on Advancing Women in STEM passed a set of recommendations to lawmakers on Dec. 6 on ways to recruit and retain more women and minorities in STEM fields.

“The Committee strongly encourages public school units, North Carolina community colleges, and the constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina to emphasize STEM education and engage with companies and organizations to provide mentoring and STEM enrichment opportunities and activities for their students and STEM educators,” the report concluded.

The committee report recommended the General Assembly earmark $1 million to establish the Increasing Engagement in STEM Program in public schools to create more awareness of STEM opportunities.

Another recommendation is to spend $5 million on “targeted grants to programs … that have a proven track record of providing the skills, experiences, and critical enrichment opportunities necessary to build a strong, qualified STEM workforce pipeline” in North Carolina.

The committee identified that only 47% of individual public schools offer a computer science class. The committee recommended a new emphasis on computer science offerings, in addition to “state-level stipends for educators who participate in professional development for computer science” and “increasing salaries for educators who teach STEM courses.”

For higher education, the committee recommended that lawmakers take action to encourage the UNC System Board of Governors and the UNC System to investigate whether to make computer science a minimum course requirement for undergraduate students entering one of the UNC schools as freshmen.

The committee also advocated possible augmented funding for the Forgivable Education Loan Program for STEM degrees and providing financial aid for summer classes for STEM courses.