WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced her co-sponsorship of the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act. This legislation would work to improve the understanding of factors contributing to sexual harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, examine the impacts of harassment on individuals and policies to reduce it, and spur government interagency efforts to mitigate it.

“Educators, businesses, and policymakers are working to increase the number of women working in high-demand STEM fields, but the prevalence of sexual harassment in STEM threatens to undo their progress,” said Senator Rosen. “We need to put an end to workplace harassment that drives away scientists, engineers, and other workers who can help our nation overcome the challenges we face, including COVID-19. This bill would take steps to reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment, helping more women enter and stay in STEM careers so that our nation can have the talented workforce it needs for success in the 21st century.” 

BACKGROUND: According to a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, sexual harassment is widespread in higher education institutions and contributes to the loss of talented and highly-trained individuals in STEM.

More specifically, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act would:

  • Award grants through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to better understand the factors contributing to and consequences of sexual harassment across institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations and to examine interventions to reduce its frequency and impact.
  • Direct Federal statistical agencies to collect national data on the prevalence, nature, and implications of sexual harassment in institutions of higher education.
  • Direct NSF to enter into an agreement with the Academies to update the Academies’ research conduct report to include more detailed data points, and
  • Establish an interagency working group chaired by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate the efforts of Federal science agencies.  

The Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act is endorsed by American Educational Research Association, American Mathematical Society, American Physical Society, Society of Women Engineers, and American Geophysical Union.

Last week, Rosen introduced the bipartisan and bicameral STEM Restoring Employment Skills through Targeted Assistance, Re-entry, and Training (RESTART) Act, legislation to provide funding to small and medium-sized STEM businesses to offer robust, paid, mid-career internships, known as “returnships,” for mid-career workers seeking to return or transition into the STEM workforce.

In her first year in the Senate, Rosen’s bipartisan Building Blocks of STEM Act was signed into law. This legislation will create and expand upon STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for young children, including new research grants to increase the participation of girls in computer science.

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