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Diplomacy in Action

United States-Brazil MOU on the Advancement of Women Focus Area: Advancing Women and Girls in STEM

Fact Sheet
Washington, DC
February 2, 2012


"I always hear stories about how we can’t find enough engineers, we can’t find enough computer programmers…And that’s why we’re emphasizing math and science. That’s why we’re emphasizing teaching girls math and science. We’ve got to lift our game up when it comes to technology and math and science. That’s, hopefully, one of the most important legacies that I can have as President of the United States." --President Barack Obama, April 2011

Under the Memorandum of Understanding on the Advancement of Women that Secretary Clinton and former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim signed in March 2010, the United States and Brazil focus on recruiting, retaining, and advancing women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Jointly, the two countries have conducted numerous professional and educational exchange programs and events to advance the issue. We are seeking to institutionalize these exchanges, even as we build on their success through the development of mentoring and network-building programs.

Educational Exchanges

  • Expansion of exchanges between high school girls in STEM – We hope to work with science and technology high schools in Washington, D.C., and New York City; these exchanges (including virtual exchanges) focus on retaining the interest of girls in STEM areas. Two Brazilian girls were selected to attend the annual global “National Youth Science Camp” in West Virginia in summer 2011, cosponsored by the Department of State.
  • Expansion of exchanges for teacher and administrators in STEM – We identify ongoing opportunities for these exchanges (including virtual exchanges), such as a recent partnership between the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia and The Boeing Company to sponsor the travel of two female elementary school science teachers to a NASA Space Camp in July 2011.

Professional Exchange Programs

  • Eight Brazilian women scientists traveled to the United States on a Voluntary Visitor Program to exchange and showcase best practices for engaging and retaining women in science. The scientists visited U.S. universities and scientific organizations that have progressive programs for women scientists. They also attended the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the theme of which was empowering women and girls through science and technology.
  • Eight American women scientists traveled to Brazil, where they visited research institutions and scientific organizations. The scientists also attended Brazil’s Third National Conference on Women at the invitation of the Brazilian Women’s Ministry (SPM). The scientists participated as roundtable panelists at the opening of Embassy Brasilia's Science Corner at CNPq (National Council of Technological and Scientific Development). 


  • UN Commission on the Status of Women Side Event – Co-sponsored by the United States and Brazil, this side event, titled "Changing Mindsets to Promote Women and Girls in Science," showcased best practices in Brazil, India, and the United States from institutions that enhance opportunities for women and girls in science.
  • "Changing Mindsets to Promote Women and Girls in Science" Symposium – Held at the Department of State, this symposium examined policies and programs that attract girls to STEM areas, keep them involved through college, and provide concrete tools for women to advance at every level of their careers. Partners included the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Academy of Sciences.

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