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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representing the 30th District of Texas

CONGRESSWOMAN EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON REINTRODUCES BILL TO PROMOTE GENDER PARITY AMONG UNIVERSITY ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE FACULTY

Feb 24, 2009
Press Release

Congresswoman Johnson reintroduces “Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act”

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson today announced that she has introduced H.R. 1144, the Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act, which she also introduced in the 110th Congress.  The legislation promotes gender parity in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the university faculty level.  The provisions of H.R. 1144 are derived from recommendations of the National Academies report “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” which found that women are under-represented in the STEM fields, in part due to gender bias.

“Female college students and university professors face obstacles in the STEM disciplines, and this bill will address—and combat—those obstacles,” Congresswoman Johnson said.  “Gender bias doesn’t just hurt those students and professors, it hurts all of us, because it diminishes our global competitiveness in science and technology.  I believe that once we have successfully fought gender bias, we will all have won.”

Today, women receive only 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering and physics.  Women make up a small percentage of science and engineering faculty members at major research universities and tend to receive fewer institutional resources for their research than their male colleagues do.  And those “institutional resources” are often funded with taxpayer money—the federal government provides over 60 percent of research funding at higher education institutions.

The Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act of 2009 directs each federal science agency to hold workshops on gender bias with members of grant review panels and engineering, mathematics, and science chairs of institutions of higher education.  The list of participating academic departments will be published annually, so that those working to overcome institutional biases can be recognized for doing so.

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.

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U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure and a senior member of the Science Committee. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas, which, includes Downtown Dallas, Fair Park, Oak Lawn, Old East Dallas, Pleasant Grove, & South Oak Cliff; all of Balch Springs, DeSoto, Hutchins, Lancaster & Wilmer and parts of Cedar Hill, Duncanville, Ferris, Glenn Heights and Ovilla.