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Chelsea Clinton wants more girls involved in STEM

Chelsea Clinton speaks at the Clinton Foundation's No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project at the Lower Eastside Girls Club on April 17, 2014 in New York City.

Chelsea Clinton has been on the move these past few weeks. Last week, she spoke at a Google event in New York City, celebrating Google's $50 million pledge to help close the tech gender gap. This week, she's in Denver at the Clinton Global Initiative America, where she has been hosting conversations about getting more women and girls into careers in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM).

The disparity between the number of women and men in STEM fields is no secret. It's a problem Clinton says starts as early as middle school.

“Research is saying that teachers call on girls less than they call on boys in math and a science classes... which sends an invisible but insidious message their opinions aren’t as valued as boys,” she said. 

Clinton also cites research showing that gender and race can play a role in the effectiveness of medical treatment. She thinks creating more diversity in science and medicine could bring more attention to the problem, and help solve it. 

Clinton has been getting some blowback for the $600,000 salary she's reportedly earning as a correspondent for NBC.  When asked if she felt the response was tied to gender, Clinton pointed to a need for a larger conversation about opportunity for women on all levels,  instead of zeroing in on top earners like Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, or Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

"The real question is how do we ensure that there are both equal opportunities for women, and that that work is valued commensurately," she said. "One of the challenges is, you know, we have so many fewer women, that those comparisons are still just hard to make." 

In her own life, Clinton credits her parents for encouraging her to have diverse interests. She says she still remembers the Commodore computer that Santa Claus brought her one Christmas.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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