Education Development Center (EDC) was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to hold an NSF INCLUDES convening on engaging and retaining women veterans in the STEM workforce. The convening took place virtually, March 2-5, 2021.
The convening examined how to leverage the unique strengths of women veterans to address barriers to their (re) engagement in the STEM workforce, particularly those from populations currently underrepresented in STEM fields. While there has been an increase in programs and support services for veterans, for women, and to help bring people from underrepresented groups into STEM, there is currently no structure or system to align all these efforts in a cohesive and effective way to serve women veterans. This virtual convening brought together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers; leadership representing universities and community colleges, nonprofit organizations, and federal agencies that serve veterans; and women veterans to address this issue through an intersectional lens. It focused on two overarching questions:
- What is the current landscape of veterans’ support services that specifically target women? and
- How can we develop and leverage existing services to provide more targeted outreach to engage, train, and retain women veterans in the STEM workforce?
The convening provided an opportunity for the various stakeholders to:
- Review and analyze the body of knowledge that currently exists,
- Stimulate new ideas and development of future research and initiatives, and
- Facilitate collaboration across the different stakeholder groups and organizations aimed at helping women veterans transition to civilian life, and pursue STEM education and careers.
Prior to the convening, the Program Committee developed “state of the state” synthesis reports that were disseminated to attendees and the public prior to the conference. The reports are aligned with the convening strands that have been identified by the Steering Committee: Women Veteran Health & Well-being, Women Veteran Transitions to the Civilian Workforce, STEM Education for Women Veterans, and STEM Workforce for Women Veterans. The reports were released in a webinar series beginning in the fall of 2020.
After the convening, the Program Committee will curate a set of targeted recommendations and resources related to STEM careers for women veterans, by:
- Identifying opportunities to scale the convening outcomes, including but not limited to the conceptualization of an NSF INCLUDES Alliance focused on women veterans and STEM;
- Developing a comprehensive report and webinar series, with recommendations for employers, federal agencies, universities/community colleges, and women veterans on systemic changes, scaffolds, and supports needed to recruit and retain women veterans;
- Making funding recommendations and suggesting future high-priority directions for NSF, other federal agencies, higher education, and private funders.