WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he joined his colleagues in 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.

“By expanding access to STEM disciplines in schools and sharing best practices for recruitment and retention in STEM careers, we can help more women and minorities become engaged in science, technology, engineering and math, boosting economic success and strengthening America’s competitiveness in the 21st-century global economy,” said Senator Peters. “The STEM Opportunities Act of 2016 will improve inclusion of women and minorities in STEM fields by tapping into and fostering their talents.”

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 legislation would:

– Create an inter-agency working group to improve collection of demographic data from federal grant recipients

-Coordinate trainings and policy development across federal science agencies to address the factors that can limit the success of underrepresented groups in STEM

-Creating a new NSF Centers of Excellence program to share research and scale up best practices in inclusion of women and minorities in STEM faculty at universities

-Provide grants for evidence-based reform efforts designed to increase recruitment, retention and advancement of underrepresented students in higher education

-Build on the existing Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) to strengthen the award system for early career STEM academics and professionals who prioritize mentoring, a key “leak” in the STEM pipeline

The STEM Opportunities Act was introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). The bill builds on legislation introduced by Ranking Member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Serving as Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, Peters is a strong supporter of expanding STEM education and opportunities. Peters is currently helping to lead the effort to shape federal research and development policy priorities previously authorized by the COMPETES Act to improve American innovation and competitiveness. Peters previously helped enact the America COMPETES Act of 2010 as a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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 Asian Resource Action Center support the STEM Opportunities Act.

Click here to read the full text of the STEM Opportunities Act.