Bowman Introduces Legislation To Diversify STEM Career Opportunities

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) on Friday announced bipartisan legislation, the Research Excellence through STEM Inclusion Act, to create a Chief Diversity Officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF) charged with implementing a strategic plan to improve the diversity of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career pipeline, specifically for programs that receive NSF funding.

Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) join Rep. Bowman in introducing the legislation. Next week, the bill will be offered as an amendment to the National Science Foundation for the Future Act in the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology markup.

Today there exists an urgent need for additional initiatives to diversify the fields of learners, research- ers, and institutions within STEM. Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented among all STEM jobs, representing 11% and 17% of all jobs but only 9% and 8% of STEM roles, respectively, according to Pew Research.

The Research Excellence through STEM Inclusion Act builds upon the Endless Frontier Act led by Rep. Khanna. It would ensure that the NSF Chief Diversity Officer’s work includes advising on a diversity and inclusion strategy for the NSF’s portfolio of preK-12 STEM education focused programs, as well as developing goals for addressing barriers to participation.

“The barriers to careers in STEM that people of color and traditionally underrepresented groups face need to be broken down,” said Rep. Bowman. “We are emerging from a pandemic that has disproportionately harmed marginalized communities. Our priority across our federal institutions, including and especially the NSF, must be to ensure that underrepresented groups can shape and benefit from progress and innovation across STEM fields. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, because diversity in STEM and research benefits us all.”

“It’s not enough to pay lip-service to diversity in technology: we need to fund targeted programs, hiring pathways, and institutions committed to building a more inclusive vision of the 21st century digital economy,” said Rep. Khanna. “Proud to support my friend, Representative Bowman, in introducing this critical bill as a stand-alone component of my Endless Frontier Act. A Chief Diversity Officer will ensure the National Science Foundation strengthens its ties with historically Black & Tribal colleges and universities to ensure we tap into the full potential of our talent pool. When we fail to address the lack of diversity in STEM, we leave thousands of our best and brightest minds on the sidelines.”

“For America to continue to lead in science and technology, we need to increase participation from our best and brightest students from diverse backgrounds. We must ensure all students can access educational opportunities, especially in STEM fields,” said Rep. Kim. “I’m glad to join Rep. Bowman to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help our nation prioritize an untapped potential and a diverse STEM workforce, and I’ll continue to support education and research opportunities on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.”

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

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