New Legislation Seeks to Achieve a More Diverse STEM Workforce

May 23, 2019

by ASME.org

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) recently introduced H.R. 2528: The STEM Opportunities Act. The bill is does a deep dive into the status of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the U.S. and calls for more comprehensive data collection on a myriad of factors surrounding it. These data collections include the recipients of federal research awards to help reduce the effects of implicit bias in the review of grants moving forward.

The legislation also directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop guidance for universities and Federal laboratories to better assist them in identifying cultural or institutional hindrances or limitations to the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented groups in both academic and federal STEM research careers. In this vein, the legislation also calls for the implementation of best practices to reduce and break down these barriers for good.

The House Science Committee also held a hearing on the legislation in which representatives from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Council on Education, Intel, and The Ohio State University provided testimony.

“Better demographic data on the students, researchers, and faculty receiving federal grants will help us identify and reduce barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from entering and advancing in STEM fields,” Ranking Member Lucas noted. “Our bill also focuses specifically on enhancing computer science education at Tribal Colleges and Universities, which will increase STEM opportunities and career prospects for American Indian and Alaska Native students. I appreciate all that Chairwoman Johnson has done to promote a diverse STEM workforce. I’m looking forward to working with her to move the STEM Opportunities Act and other STEM legislation for rural students and more in the coming year.”

To view the legislation in full, click here:
https://science.house.gov/imo/media/doc/STEM%20Opportunities%20Act%205.7.19_forintro.pdf

To view an archived webcast of the hearing, click here:
https://science.house.gov/hearings/achieving-the-promise-of-a-diverse-stem-workforce