There is enormous gender disparity in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Some statistics compiled by AAUW, an organization that promotes getting more women involved in these subject areas:
– High school girls represent only 17 percent of computer science Advanced Placement (AP) test takers.
– College-educated women earned only 18 percent of computer and information sciences bachelor’s degrees (down from 37 percent of computer science degrees in 1985).
– In 2006, women earned only 21 percent of doctorate degrees in computer science.
– Overall, women comprise 24.8 percent of computer and mathematical professionals, down from 27 percent in 2006.
At the faculty level, women make up a very small percentage at major research universities and tend to receive fewer resources — which are often funded with federal money — than their male colleagues. In February, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced H.R. 1144, the Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act. The legislation would direct federal science agencies “to hold workshops on gender bias with members of grant review panels and engineering, mathematics, and science chairs of institutions of higher education.” More on the bill:
Finally, the legislation directs federal science agencies to develop policies for extended research grant support for researchers who have care-giving responsibilities. It also directs the agencies to provide guidelines for researchers to hire interim technical support during times of family leave. This policy will help to support women in STEM academic disciplines, but it will also support men who are caregivers, and make STEM research more family friendly.
Section 124, of course, refers to Johnson’s legislation. In a statement to ThinkProgress, Johnson stressed that her legislation was added to the COMPETES Act with unanimous support:
During the Science Committee markup of America COMPETES, I inserted an amendment regarding Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. This amendment passed unanimously out of committee with bipartisan support. This provision was based on a report by the National Academies entitled Beyond Bias and Barriers, which provided clear guidelines to universities, federal agencies, professional organizations and Congress on actions to take to reduce gender bias at the university faculty level.
We have the data that gender bias exists, and Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering seeks to give women a path to advancement and success. We need all available bright minds to advance our nation in the STEM fields.
It’s unlikely that Issa’s amendment will pass, in light of the unanimous support it received in committee. We contacted Issa’s office about why he wants to strip legislation improving gender parity in STEM, but we have not yet heard back.
Sources on Capitol Hill tell ThinkProgress that Issa has withdrawn his amendment.