U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored legislation to support women and minorities pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers. Introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the STEM Opportunities Act of 2019 would help federal science agencies and institutions of higher education identify and share best practices for overcoming barriers that limit the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM fields.
“STEM is one of the fastest-growing job sectors, but substantial barriers prevent the full participation of Nevada’s workforce – namely women and people of color. Nevada can’t unlock its full potential as the Innovation State if our STEM fields don’t reflect the rich diversity of our state. I’m proud to support legislation that helps level the playing field and invests in training our workforce to lead the 21st century economy.”
In addition to U.S. Senators Hirono and Cortez Masto, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also cosponsored this legislation.
U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) introduced its companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The STEM Opportunities Act of 2019 boosts the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by:
- Requiring more comprehensive demographic data collection on the recipients of federal research awards and on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty at U.S. universities;
- Developing consistent federal policies, such as no-cost award extensions, for recipients of federal research awards who have caregiving responsibilities;
- Creating consistent federal guidance to grant reviewers and program officers on best practices to minimize the effects of implicit bias in the review of federal research grants;
- Requiring the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop guidance for universities and Federal laboratories to aid them in identifying any cultural and institutional barriers limiting the recruitment, retention and achievement of women, minorities, rural students and other underrepresented groups in academic and government STEM research careers and in developing and implementing current best practices for reducing such barriers;
- Authorizing the National Science Foundation to award grants to universities to implement or expand research-based practices targeted specifically at increasing the recruitment and retention of minority students and faculty.
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