Maui News

Hirono Seeks to Improve Opportunities for Women and Minorities in STEM Careers

July 5, 2021, 8:28 AM HST
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US Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) introduced her plan to improve opportunities for women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“Amid growing global economic competition, the United States cannot afford to ignore the barriers women and minorities face in pursuing STEM education and careers,” Senator Hirono said. “These two bills would make key investments to unlock new pathways for women and people of color to pursue STEM education and careers and harness America’s diversity to meet the economic challenges of the 21stcentury.”

The legislation includes two bills: the STEM Opportunities Act (S. 2224) and the Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act (S. 2217).

STEM Opportunities Act: 

This bill would provide funding for guidance, research, data collection, and other activities to promote opportunities for women and minorities in STEM at colleges and universities and federal science agencies. It would also mandate more data collection to better understand who receives federal grants, clarify guidance for grant reviewers to minimize the effects of implicit bias, and create federal grants to promote research-based recruitment and retention practices for minority faculty and students at institutions of higher education. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) introduced the House companion, which passed the House earlier this year.

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The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),

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Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act:

This bill would provide funding for professional development and training, mentoring, and outreach to promote the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in STEM. Under the bill, for example, a college or university could receive a competitive grant to provide graduate or undergraduate internships in STEM, or create programs designed to improve the recruitment or retention of underrepresented faculty in STEM. Similarly, a nonprofit organization could receive a competitive grant to conduct online workshops focused on STEM, or create programs that allow K-12 students to work alongside STEM professionals to gain practical experience in STEM. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) will lead the House companion.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada).

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