House Passes Package of Bills to Boost Underrepresented Groups’ Participation in STEM Fields

With tumultuous negotiations over tax reform and budget proposals at least temporarily behind them, the U.S. House of Representatives concluded the legislative year by passing a package of three bills intended to boost the involvement of women, veterans, and other underrepresented groups in STEM-related occupations, including within the federal government.

The package of bills includes the STEM Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act, which, according to NextGov, “would require the National Science Foundation to fill in Congress on its efforts to get more women and other historically underrepresented groups to participate in federal research and education programs. It would also mandate science agencies collect, analyze and report data on the effectiveness of research and development grants to universities and federal laboratories.”

The other two bills passed by the House were the “Women in Aerospace Education Act, which would help bring more women into fellowship programs at NASA and national laboratories, and the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act, which aims to open up more opportunities for veterans to pursue jobs in STEM.”

The bills come at a time when both private industry and government agencies have struggled to fill the number of STEM-related openings that have cropped up in recent years and were passed as a part of Congress “Science Day,” which was organized by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Smith outlined his goal in spearheading the effort in a recent op-ed.

As noted by NextGov, “in September 2017, men held more than 72 percent of government IT positions, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management. At the same time, federal agencies also employed roughly 4.5 IT specialists age 60 and over for every one employee under the age of 30,” a situation that has increasingly created a need for an improved pipeline to transition young, skilled STEM specialists into relevant jobs.

Posted in From the Hill

Tags: STEM

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