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News & Press: Press Release

AWIS Applauds GAO Recommendations on Women in STEM Research

Monday, December 14, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amy Neale
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For Immediate Release



Amy Neale


WASHINGTON DC, December 14, 2015 – Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its final report on gender bias in federal agencies which fund research projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Findings include data collection deficiencies at six federal agencies which award 90% of the nearly $25 billion in federal STEM grants annually. The deficient agencies are the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The study also found that two of the three agencies responsible for $17.1 billion of federal STEM funding, NIH and DOD, fail to conduct legally required Title IX compliance reviews to ensure the universities they fund are addressing gender bias within their research programs. Title IX is a law written to protect students, faculty and staff from sexual discrimination and harassment at educational institutions receiving federal dollars. While the law is most often associated with sports, AWIS has been promoting application to STEM disciplines since enactment in 1972.

“Congratulations to Congresswomen Louise Slaughter, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Rosa DeLauro for spearheading this review. Scant attention has been paid to the attrition of women from STEM fields based on bias in funding and merit review. Over the past 40 years, 42% of all STEM degrees have been awarded to women yet they only make up 27% of the STEM workforce. This failure to retain talent comes at a cost for both the taxpayer and innovation in this country,” noted Janet Bandows Koster, AWIS Executive Director and CEO. “We are pleased with the recommendations in the GAO report and will continue to partner with agencies to improve workplace policies to stem the loss of our ‘best and brightest.’”

GAO recommendations include better data collection, oversight of the research proposal review process, and the implementation of family-friendly policies for research grantees.

You can help us thank Congresswomen Slaughter, Johnson and DeLauro for championing women in STEM, spread the word: #STEMthebias.

About AWIS:

Founded in 1971, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a powerful advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Dedicated to driving excellence in research by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors, AWIS reaches more than 20,000 professionals in STEM with members and chapters worldwide.  Membership is open to any individual who supports the vision and mission of AWIS.

© 2016 AWIS
Association for Women in Science
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