[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded the Senate’s bipartisan passage of the CHIPS plus legislation today with several provisions he championed to help address sexual harassment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and to support researchers from historically underrepresented populations early in their career:
“This momentous measure is the most impactful technology step in recent history for high-tech job creation and economic growth in our state and others. It will spur innovation, fight inflation, and increase high-tech manufacturing and jobs—in Connecticut and around the country. At my urging, it includes provisions to fight sexual harassment in STEM fields and to support young scientists whose careers have been impacted by the pandemic. This legislation will make it easier for women and other underrepresented groups to thrive by tackling the deep inequities that exist in STEM fields. I urge the House to swiftly advance this bill to support the next generation of talented scientists and to invest in American invention and progress.”
— Curbing Sexual Harassment in STEM Fields: The CHIPS plus legislation includes language Blumenthal introduced and fought for to improve the understanding of factors contributing to sexual harassment in 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 and sex-based harassment across institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations and to examine approaches to reduce their frequency and impact. It would also direct NSF to enter into an agreement with the National Academies to update the National Academies’ research conduct report to include updated standards and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to establish a working group to develop a set of policy guidelines for federal research agencies.
— Supporting Early-Career and Underrepresented Researchers: At Blumenthal’s urging, the CHIPS plus legislation 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 two-year pilot program for postdoctoral fellows at the National Science Foundation to prevent the loss of research talent due to job market disruptions caused by the economic decline like the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes language that makes available mentoring and professional development support for post-doctoral researchers.