Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US president, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos toured the National Air and Space Museum with a middle school class yesterday to encourage girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the Associated Press reports.
Trump, an entrepreneur, noted that women comprise 48 percent of the workforce, but only make up 24 percent of STEM workers. "Women are increasingly underrepresented in important fields of science, technology, engineering and math," she said. "But I dare you to beat these statistics and advance the role of women in STEM fields."
Trump and DeVos were accompanied by Kay Hire, an astronaut, and other women who work at NASA. They also called on girls to pursue careers like theirs by working and studying hard, the AP says.
According to the AP, Trump also said that her father's administration was increasing NASA's space exploration program to include Mars.
However, it pointed out that her remarks came as the Trump administration sent a list of possible budget cuts to Congress that included NASA, the Department of Education, and the National Institutes of Health. In particular, the administration proposed cutting $1.2 billion from this year's NIH budget.
This juxtaposition drew the scorn of the American Federation of Teachers. "The next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers, and mathematicians need support, not budget cuts eliminating the very programs being promoted," Randi Weingarten, the AFT president, says a statement.