WASHINGTON, D.C.– Senator Mazie K. Hirono marked Equal Pay Day by introducing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Opportunities Act, legislation that would improve inclusion of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in STEM careers.
Equal Pay Day marks the day in 2016 when, on average, women’s wages catch up to what men earned in 2015.
It’s unacceptable that we are more than 100 days into 2016, but women’s salaries are only now catching up with what men made last year,” said the Senator in a press release. “While the gender pay gap affects women across all fields, women in STEM careers continue to face barriers that can limit their opportunities for employment and equal pay. The STEM Opportunities Act takes a comprehensive approach to combatting factors that limit the advancement of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM. For America to remain competitive in a 21st century economy, we must break down barriers for working women through passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and the STEM Opportunities Act.”
Senator Hirono also took to the Senate floor to mark Equal Pay Day and highlight disparities in STEM fields.
The STEM Opportunities Act helps federal science agencies and institutions of higher education identify and share best practices to overcome barriers that can hurt the inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM, and also allows universities and nonprofits to receive competitive grants and recognition for mentoring women and minorities in STEM fields. The STEM Opportunities Act builds on legislation championed by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
The Senate measure is cosponsored by Sen. Edward Markey, Massachusetts’ junior Senator.
“The STEM fields are critical to driving innovation and economic growth,” said Senator Kristin Gillibrand of New York. “But we limit our potential when our STEM workforce does not reflect the diversity of our nation. I was proud to lead a successful bipartisan amendment to the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act to increase access to high-quality STEM coursework in K-12 education for students who are members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields. The STEM Opportunities Act will improve opportunities for advancement in STEM fields for women and underrepresented minorities further down the pipeline – in higher education, in early careers, and for STEM academics and professionals.”
“Increasing women and minority participation in the STEM economy will keep the United States at the forefront of scientific discovery and technological innovation in the 21st century,” said Sen. Markey. “The diversity of STEM professionals will help fuel the diversity of discoveries in science, technology, engineering and math. For our future scientific endeavors to produce the next generation of life-changing results, we need to ensure that our universities, laboratories and research institutions reflect the rich diversity of our nation and continue to receive the support that fosters breakthroughs and helps maintain American leadership in science and technology.”
The American Association for University of Women, American Women in Science, Girls, Inc., MAES- Latinos in Science and Engineering, Maui Economic Development Board, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Society for Women Engineers, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center support the STEM Opportunities Act.