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SIOP Participates in Coalition for National Science Funding Capitol Hill Exhibition


by SIOP Administrative Office

Debra Major Showcases Research on Factors that Contribute to Persistence in STEM Majors and IT Careers

SIOP Fellow Debra Major, Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Old Dominion University, represented SIOP April 26 at the 22nd annual Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The exhibition is an opportunity for CNSF members to display and discuss National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research directly with members of Congress, federal agency officials, and other policymakers and allows the research community to highlight the importance of continued investment in NSF and basic research. SIOP’s booth at the exhibition featured ongoing research conducted by Major, examining factors that contribute to persistence in STEM undergraduate majors and information technology careers. This topic garnered a lot of interest from event attendees and the SIOP booth was well attended throughout the exhibition.

"My research focuses on barriers to career development in STEM," Major explained. "I’m especially interested in strategies for retaining women in STEM fields. Research shows that the women who leave STEM majors are at least as qualified as the men who remain. My goal is to understand how to build a more inclusive  experience that better retains all talented individuals in STEM majors and careers."

Major’s poster presentation at the exhibition cited factors that encourage individuals to persist in STEM majors and careers, according to her University. They include meaningful growth and development opportunities that can build identity and commitment in STEM. 

NSF Director France Córdova visited the SIOP booth, along with Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Assistant Director of NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, and Amber Story, Deputy Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences. Major also had the opportunity to discuss her research with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9) and numerous congressional staff, many of whom noted that STEM workforce and training issues are currently receiving attention from members of Congress.

"Policy makers recognize that the US is facing a shortage of STEM workers," Major noted. "It’s essential to find ways to keep talented individuals in STEM educational and career pathways. Research on the factors that support persistence, especially of women and minorities, helps address a national need. It was a great event and an excellent opportunity to showcase the value of science funding."

CNSF is an alliance of more than 140 organizations that support the goal of increasing the national investment in NSF research and education programs. SIOP joined CNSF in the fall of 2014 and participated in the 2015 exhibition as well.

Participation in the CNSF Exhibition complements SIOP’s ongoing NSF outreach strategy, which has included submitting written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, advocating for NSF funding, as well as continuous efforts to build and maintain relationships with congressional and federal agency officials. Through SIOP’s government relations activities, like the CNSF Exhibition, the Society is able to highlight the value of I-O research to federal agency program managers and policymakers and promote SIOP as a prominent and credible stakeholder in the science community’s government relations priorities.

Read more about SIOP’s advocacy efforts on the SIOP Government Relations page.