Today’s guest post is from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson who is serving her 11th term representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. In December 2010, Congresswoman Johnson was elected as the first African-American female Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education where she emphasized education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.
Congresswoman Johnson has been a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee since being sworn into office in January 1993. In 2007, Congresswoman Johnson was appointed by House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) to serve as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment during the 110th and 111th Congresses. She has served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as the highest ranking Texan. She has also served on the Subcommittee on Aviation, the Subcommittee on Railroad, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials and the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. She was the first African-American and female in Congress to hold this position of Subcommittee Chair.
Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Johnson has earned the reputation of being a stateswoman who is dedicated to improving U.S. foreign relationships and policies. She works tirelessly towards improving human rights around the globe. Congresswoman Johnson’s acclaimed initiative “A World of Women for World Peace” has been nationally and internationally recognized.
Congresswoman Johnson studied nursing at St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame. She returned to Texas when she successfully passed the National Board Examination in Nursing. She later became Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the VA Hospital in Dallas and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967. She received a master’s degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University in 1976. Congresswoman Johnson is the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Congresswoman Johnson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972 and became the first woman in Texas history to lead a major Texas House committee, the Labor Committee. As an advocate for workers, children, and families, she was recognized and appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Regional Director of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1977. In 1986, she was elected a Texas state Senator, becoming the first female and African-American from the Dallas area to hold this office since Reconstruction.
Congresswoman Johnson is widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress. She is credited with originally authoring and co-authoring more than 150 bills that were passed by the House and Senate and signed into law. She also has a long-standing reputation for providing excellent constituent services. Her district office in downtown Dallas specializes in working with all federal departments and agencies to assist constituents in solving a wide range of individual problems.
I have known and admired Congresswoman Johnson during her entire tenure of public service in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has consistently supported children, families, and community in her legislative and policy views. Congresswoman Johnson is dedicated to improving U.S. foreign relationships and policies and works tirelessly towards improving human rights around the globe. Please welcome Congresswoman Johnson as our guest for today’s post.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: Know the Capacity of Your Strength
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” – Marianne Williamson
When I read this quote, it struck me how it reflects the common fears of young girls. The fear of not being accepted by your friends. The fear of not being successful. The fear of not being as smart as your male counterparts. But as this quote captures the sentiment that our deepest fear is that our power is beyond measure. I believe that it is in part my responsibility to show young girls that with hard work and a strong focus on their education, anything is possible. Young girls often aspire to be Grammy-award winning singers or Oscar-winning actresses. While these aspirations are notable, I believe we must also promote the ideal that women are capable of pursuing successful careers in the sciences. Let us strive to create an environment where women aspire to be a world-renowned physicist or a Nobel Prize winner.
As the first African American and the first woman to serve as Ranking Member on the United States House of Representatives Committee of Science, Space, and Technology, it has always been my top priority to identify and support programs that will increase the ranks of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The United States was once ranked as the top country in science and technology, but now that is no longer the case. In 2009, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development found that U.S. students ranked 25th among 34 countries in math and science. We must continue to work together to encourage young girls, especially minorities, to pursue STEM careers.
Girls, Inc.’s mission is to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” Their mission is serving young girls worldwide, and stressing the importance of continued education and mentorship of future generations of women leaders. We must encourage girls to be strong and stay the course of challenging career paths. We must advocate for them to be smart and excel in their studies, so they can continue in competitive fields. We must motivate girls to be bold and choose to go into STEM careers. Our girls are the future backbone of our workforce, and it is important to introduce them to STEM vocations that can be exciting and rewarding.
The pursuit of STEM careers is the key to the U.S. not just competing in the 21st century, but leading. It is imperative that we bolster the confidence of women and young girls, and encourage them at every turn to pursue their dreams. We are doing a disservice to future generations if we allow fear of the unknown cripple the minds of young girls, and thereby prevent them from excelling in competitive subjects.
I sincerely applaud Girls, Inc., and in particular the Metropolitan Dallas Chapter, for their continued efforts in encouraging girls to reach their full potential. Investment in younger generations is an investment in the success and prosperity of our country.