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Good morning, everyone!

I am delighted to get to speak to you this morning.  This is ours second cohort in the Women Tech Founders Program, and I hear this is a particularly dynamic group – a force to be reckoned with!  I am proud of our success in this collaborative effort supporting Women in Tech – a public-private partnership between the U.S. government’s POWER Initiative, Google’s Women Techmakers, and Meridian International.

As a starting point, I want to thank Google for providing the training and resources this week.  And, of course, we’re also grateful to our friends at Meridian International for kindly hosting us.

I hope you all know that promoting gender equity and equality is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy under the Biden-Harris Administration.  Not only do we believe that women’s economic empowerment is essential for stable, peaceful, and growing economies – we know it is.

We also know that no field or profession should be out of reach for women.  And that certainly applies to STEM.  Because when we increase the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we catalyze economic growth and productivity.  History – not to mention empirical data – shows this time and again.

Unfortunately, women and girls still face roadblocks when it comes to accessing STEM education, investment, networks, and careers.  So we need to keep fighting to remove every obstacle that prevents our young women from reaching their full potential.  This is imperative.  Women and girls simply must have access to participate fully in the digital economy.  Full stop.

STEM skills are necessary for a 21st century workforce.  They increase worldwide productivity and give us the tools we need to excel in industries like cyber and telecommunications.

But STEM skills also help us address some of the most pressing challenges of our day, from preventing and countering the next pandemic to tackling the climate crisis.  And guess what?  These challenges disproportionately affect women and girls.  So we need women and girls to be part of the solution.

Women and girls must have an equal seat at the table.  They must participate as equals in STEM-related jobs and contribute to research and development, entrepreneurship, and leadership.  Without them, we simply cannot reach our maximum economic and scientific potential.

Closing the gender gap in the workforce could unleash upwards of 5.3 trillion dollars – that’s trillion – in gains to global GDP.

Yet, in 2019, just two percent of venture capital was directed toward women-founded startups.

And that’s why we are here today.  It’s why we continue to raise this issue.  It’s why the U.S. National Gender Strategy clearly underscores the vital importance of getting more women and girls involved in tech.

Our national gender strategy – the first for the U.S. government by the way – is ambitious and firm in making sure our nation closes gender gaps and propels us toward full equality.

It prioritizes closing gender gaps in STEM by:  promoting equity, access, and nondiscrimination in STEM fields; improving gender equity in access to technology; and encouraging STEM innovation and entrepreneurship.

If we succeed, we can be a model for equitable engagement in a technology-driven global economy.  We can provide women and girls with opportunities to lead in international science and technology ventures.

So we need U.S. government initiatives like POWER, the Women and Girls Empowered or WAGE program, TechWomen and TechGirls, the WiSci intensive summer STEM camp, the Fortune mentoring program, the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), and others to hold us accountable for fulfilling the promises laid out in the President’s national gender strategy.

But we cannot do it alone, and that’s why we value our partnerships with Google, Meridian, and others around the world.  And it’s why we value working with all of you – women leaders in the field who are shaping our future.

As leading women in tech, please take the opportunity this week to connect with fellow tech leaders and entrepreneurs, expand your global network, and share your inspiring stories and best practices.

I thank you for your passion, and I congratulate all of you on your perseverance and success.  As you build your businesses, we will look to you for continued inspiration as role models for change.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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