At a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing today on Achieving the Promise of a Diverse STEM Workforce, witnesses discussed policies and best practices to improve diversity in our STEM workforce.
Ranking Member Frank Lucas, who is cosponsoring the bipartisan STEM Opportunities Act with Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, noted the current inequities in STEM careers. “When women and minorities face cultural and institutional barriers to access and advancement in STEM careers, our nation’s technological competitiveness suffers,” Lucas said. “The only way we’ll achieve our potential is by utilizing America’s most valuable resource: our people. That means developing a diverse STEM-capable workforce from every education level and from every background.”
Today’s hearing and the STEM Opportunities Act are the latest actions in a long Committee history of addressing STEM education and opportunities for women, underrepresented minorities, and students in underserved areas.
The Innovation in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act, sponsored by Leader Kevin McCarthy and signed into law in 2018, is expanding America’s workforce pipeline for STEM jobs by combining traditional education at community and four-year colleges with on-the-job work experiences, such as apprenticeships and internships, by partnering with local employers in in-demand STEM fields. It also directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) In-Demand Workforce Grants program to prioritize applications that include outreach plans and goals for recruiting and enrolling women and other underrepresented populations in STEM fields.
Two more bipartisan bills signed into law in 2018, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (H.R. 321) and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) facilitate and encourage more women to pursue careers in science.
Ranking Member Lucas noted at today’s hearing that there is much more to be done to improve STEM diversity and explained how the STEM Opportunities Act can help that goal.
“This bill requires more comprehensive data collection on the students, researchers, and faculty receiving federal science grants,” Lucas said. “This data will help us identify and reduce the barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from entering and advancing in STEM. It will also help us measure the success of federal STEM programs.”
Lucas also thanked Chairwoman Johnson for her ongoing work on STEM diversity.
“I appreciate all that Chairwoman Johnson has done to promote a diverse STEM workforce” Lucas said. “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.”