Today, we’re talking to Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang of California. Assemblywoman Chang is part of the inaugural class of STEMx Policy Fellows from across the country. They are spending the next two years learning from and with other policymakers from STEMx states to take new ideas back to their own community. A self-described techie, Assemblywoman Chang most recently served as President & CEO of the Youth Science Center, a nonprofit education organization that focuses on strengthening STEM curriculum and education in local schools. She is bringing her personal experience to the California legislature to help improve STEM education for students across the state. Prior interview: Representative Graig Meyer Don’t forget to join us Wednesday for our regular webinar.

Welcome Rep. Chang! What does it mean to you being a STEMx Policy Fellow?

Our chat with STEMx Policy Fellow and California Representative Ling Ling Chang

Our chat with STEMx Policy Fellow and California Representative Ling Ling Chang

It is an amazing honor – especially being the inaugural fellow for California. I have always been inspired by STEM and now to be representing my state through STEMx, it is a privilege and an opportunity to make STEM a priority in my state.

I’ve been a “techie” since I was a kid and as an adult an important part of my professional career has been devoted to STEM education for kids. Now to be working on state policy impacting children all across California is something I am very excited about.

I’ve participated in one conference with the STEMx fellows from other states and that process of sharing knowledge and experiences has been invaluable. All the states have different approaches and viewpoints, so to have a platform to share our ideas and results better informs us all. Hopefully that process leads to positive results back in our home states.

What do you hope to learn during your time as a fellow?

The big issue with STEM is very simple and clear: the gap between the supply of jobs in this space and the number of students graduating with a necessary STEM background is enormous. The solution to that problem is incredibly complex and requires collaboration from lawmakers, industry leaders, and the education community, my goal is to do everything I can to close that gap.

The development of world-class talent in the field of STEM is critical to California’s national and global leadership. If I can learn about smart, creative, and thoughtful ways to address this very acute issue, it will be well worth it.

What are some ways that you’re working now to support strong STEM education in California?

I am already working on policy prescriptions to elevate STEM in California. This year I introduced a bill to provide students with a STEM seal on their high school diplomas if they meet certain benchmarks in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The goal is make graduates more marketable in the job market, inspire students to take more STEM courses, and motivate schools to provide more STEM opportunities.

I am also continuing my work on a resolution to designate April 3-9 as Women and Girls in STEM Week. Any labor force development strategy needs a women’s strategy — one that embraces pathways for both girls and women pursuing STEM careers. Unfortunately women are underrepresented in this area both in the job market and in college. This is an effort to spotlight this issue and inspire more women and girls to engage in STEM.

Thanks so much for your time, Representative Chang! 
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