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Blumenthal-Led Provisions to Support Young Scientists & Help Stop Sexual Harassment in STEM Passed by Commerce Committee

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s bipartisan passage of the Endless Frontier Act today with several provisions he championed to help address sexual harassment in STEM fields and to support early-career researchers whose employment opportunities have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:

“This landmark legislation will help put America at the forefront of scientific and technological progress—truly an endless frontier for the 21st century. This bipartisan commitment should protect our vital national interest, economic and strategic, as a world leader. I added measures to fight the rampant culture of sexual harassment in STEM and support young scientists whose careers have been affected by the pandemic. By confronting deep inequities in STEM fields, this legislation will make it easier for women and other underrepresented groups to thrive. The full Senate must commit to passing this strong bipartisan legislation to support talented scientists and invest in American innovation.”  

Blumenthal secured the inclusion of several specific provisions in the Endless Frontier Act, based on his Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act and Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act, including:

  • Curbing Sexual Harassment in STEM Fields: The Endless Frontier Act includes language Blumenthal authored and secured to improve the understanding of factors contributing to sexual harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, examine impacts of harassment on individuals, and develop policy guidelines to mitigate this harassment. A landmark 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that sexual harassment is wide-spread in higher education institutions and contributes to loss of talented, highly-trained individuals in STEM.

Among the provisions fought for by Blumenthal, the legislation would award grants through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to deepen understanding of 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. It would also direct Federal statistical agencies to collect national data on the prevalence, nature, and implications of sexual harassment in institutions of higher education, NSF to enter into an agreement with the National Academies to update the National Academies’ research conduct report to include more detailed data points, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a set of policy guidelines for Federal science agencies.

  • Supporting Early-Career and Underrepresented Researchers: At Blumenthal’s urging, the Endless Frontier Act includes language to support early-career researchers whose employment opportunities have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those at minority-serving institutions and women and minorities underrepresented in STEM fields. The provisions would create a new postdoctoral fellowship program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to prevent the loss of research talent due to job market disruptions caused by the economic decline during and after the pandemic.