Blog Archives

House Sends Slate of Science Bills to the Senate

On May 17, the House of Representatives approved a group of bills introduced in the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee that aim to make the U.S. science enterprise more equitable, safe, and fair. Four bills, the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144), the STEM Opportunities Act (H.R. 204), the MSI STEM Achievement Act (H.R. 2027), and the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act (H.R. 2695) were introduced by Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson and were endorsed by COSSA. The Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act would authorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a two-year pilot program to award grants to highly qualified early-career investigators to carry out an independent research program. The STEM Opportunities Act would provide for guidance, data collection, and grants for groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at higher education institutions and at federal science agencies. The MSI STEM Achievement Act would require the NSF to award grants for building the capacity of minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to increase the number and success of their students in the STEM workforce. The Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act (see COSSA’s previous coverage) would expand research on the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in the STEM workforce as well as direct data to influence policy to reduce the negative impacts of sexual harassment. The House also passed the Rural STEM Education Act (H.R. 210), introduced by House Science Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), which would direct NSF to support research regarding STEM education in rural schools. These and other STEM-related bills may be rolled in with other, sweeping NSF authorizing legislation in the future, such as the NSF for the Future Act (see previous coverage).

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Posted in Issue 11 (May 25), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

COSSA Joins Science Organizations Highlighting Diversity in STEM on “WMPD Day”

On May 12, scientific organizations, including COSSA, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral Brain Sciences, and SAGE Publishing, will observe “Understanding Diversity in STEM: WMPD Day.” The event takes its name from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics’ (NCSES) biannual report: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. Organizations will hold events throughout the day to recognize, celebrate, and build on the contributions of women, minorities, and person with disabilities in the STEM enterprise. Scheduled activities include a kickoff event with experts from NCSES to discuss the most recent WMPD report (11 AM ET), a mid-day event from FABBS on LGBTQ+ and Multiracial Demographics in WMPD (1PM ET), and a closing event from the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and SAGE Publishing on building a more diverse and dynamic STEM workforce (4PM ET). A complete list of events is available on the WMPD Day website.

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 11), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Committee Reintroduces Legislation to Combat Sexual Harassment in Science

On April 20, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (SST) reintroduced the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act (H.R. 2695), bipartisan legislation that would expand research on the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in the STEM workforce as well as direct data to influence policy to reduce the negative impacts of sexual harassment. COSSA has been an endorser of the legislation since 2018 when it was first introduced (see previous coverage for more details). More information is available in a press release available on the SST website.

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Posted in Issue 9 (April 27), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Committee Releases Federal Scientific Workforce Report

Last month, the majority staff of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology released the report Scientific Brain Drain: Quantifying the Decline of the Federal Scientific Workforce, an analysis of federal employment levels of seven federal science agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology (DHS S&T), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The analysis looked across the past decade to understand how the federal government is investing in its increasing scientific responsibilities, alongside the context of racial, ethnic, and gender equity. The report identifies historical challenges facing U.S. researchers compared to other countries such as underinvestment in research, understaffing of STEM workers, lack of diversity in the scientific workforce, and lack of scientific integrity at federal agencies. The report calls on Congress and the executive branch to focus long-term attention and support to restore scientific integrity; increase funding for science agencies; embrace proactive recruitment, hiring, and retention policies; and deepen the commitment to diversity and equity. The full report is available on the Science Committee website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s Spring intern, Nicholas Lynn.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Trump-Era Visa Restriction for Skilled Foreign Workers Expires

The Biden White House has decided not to renew a proclamation issued by former President Trump that restricted foreign travel to the United States. The now-defunct proclamation was notable for restricting the availability of the H1-B visa for skilled foreign workers, a category of visa that is commonly used by scientific and academic organizations to recruit international STEM workers and scientists. First implemented in June 2020 and extended through the end of March 2021, the proclamation was widely criticized by the scientific community as stifling the scientific workforce and harming relationships with global scientific talent (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). The Biden Administration’s decision to nix the policy is one of many pivots away from Trump-era immigration restrictions in science in favor of international collaboration. A list of other reversed immigration restrictions is available on the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 13), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

House Science Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Rebuilding the Federal Scientific Workforce

On March 17, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to address strategies to rebuild the federal scientific workforce especially related to recruiting and retaining scientific talent. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Acting Director for Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at the U.S. Government Accountability Office Candice Wright; President and CEO at the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier; Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists Dr. Andrew Rosenberg; and Former Director of Science and Technology at the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency Dr. Betsy Southerland.

Subcommittee Chairman Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ranking Member Jay Obernolte (R-CA) both acknowledged the need to improve the capabilities of the federal government to hire scientists, and Subcommittee members of both parties seemed broadly supportive of suggestions provided by the panelists to increase the federal scientific workforce and reform federal hiring practices. Some of the recommendations discussed by Subcommittee members and panelists included reducing the budgetary and political restraints on hiring scientists, improving the federal government’s “brand” as an employer, simplifying the federal job-hunting process for scientists, offering meaningful scientific internships as a legitimate pipeline to full-time employment, investing in STEM education opportunities in elementary schools, and deemphasizing the reliance on temporary workers and contractors at federal agencies. Both Foster and Obernolte expressed interest in pursuing legislative action on these topics in the future.

Statements from Foster and full Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), witness testimonies, and a full recording of the hearing are available on the SST website.

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Posted in Issue 7 (March 30), Update, Volume 40 (2021)

Analysis Finds that STEM Supports Two Thirds of U.S. Jobs

A new analysis released on January 28 found that 67 percent of U.S. jobs and 69 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) are supported by science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The analysis, conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of 10 leading U.S. scientific, engineering and industry organizations, including COSSA, found that STEM supports an outsized share of the U.S. economy and produces $2.3 trillion in federal tax revenue annually.

The analysis—STEM and the American Workforce—takes one of the most inclusive views of the scientific workforce to date, factoring in jobs that rely on STEM fields regardless of the level of education obtained by the employee and finds that six in ten U.S. STEM professionals do not hold a bachelor’s degree. A link to the press release and analysis can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

National Science Board Releases Report on the Skilled Technical Workforce

On September 12, the National Science Board (NSB), the advisory body for the National Science Foundation (NSF),  held a briefing on Capitol Hill announcing the release of a report on the Skilled Technical Workforce (STW), the sector of working individuals in science and engineering fields who do not hold bachelor’s degrees. NSB Chair Diane Souvaine and NSB Member Victor McCrary hosted the briefing.

The report analyzes the current STW and offers policy recommendations to improve the well-being of the sector. The report recommends improving messaging about opportunities in the STW, fixing gaps and silos in data concerning the STW, analyzing federal investments in the workforce, and building  partnerships between STW stakeholders and academic institutions. More information about the report can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 17), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

National Science Board Releases Policy Statement on U.S. STEM-Capable Workforce

On February 1, the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF),  released a companion policy statement to the 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators entitled “Our Nation’s Future Competitiveness Relies on Building a STEM-Capable U.S. Workforce.” The statement highlights the Board’s view that growing the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. The NSB also emphasized in its statement that STEM is not just for researchers with advanced degrees, but for all Americans and all segments of our population. More details can be found on the NSB website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 6), Update, Volume 37 (2018)

NSB Releases Policy Brief on Career Path of Science, Engineering, and Health PhDs

The National Science Board, which is the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), released a new policy brief featuring an interactive infographic tool allowing policymakers, educators, students, and others to assess career opportunities for those with doctoral degrees in science, engineering, and health fields. The interactive webpage also allows users to see the number of people with doctorates employed in business, government, and academic jobs and how career paths change over time. The tool can be found here.

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Posted in Issue 9 (May 2), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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