Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Presidential Candidates on Women in Science

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) sent questionnaires to the Obama and McCain campaigns regarding the candidates' positions on issues affecting women in science. Here are the questions they asked:

  1. In a September 2006 report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, the National Academies stated that, in order to maintain scientific and engineering leadership amid increasing economic and educational globalization, the United States must aggressively pursue the innovative capacity of all people, regardless of sex. Although women make up almost half of the U.S. workforce, they continue to be underrepresented in STEM professions, particularly in the higher academic faculty ranks and leadership positions. As President of the United States, how do you plan to address the need for more women in STEM?
  2. What is your position on H.R. 6314, the “Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” recently introduced by Representative Eddie
    Bernice Johnson (DTX)?
  3. For the past thirty-six years, Title IX has been applicable to all educational programs that have received federal funds and not just collegiate athletics. Despite this law, however, there have been indications that it has not been evenly enforced by all federal funding agencies nor adhered to by all educational institutions, as the law initially intended. As President, how would you seek to ensure that Title IX is evenly applied to all sectors of academia, including STEM departments, rather than just athletics?
  4. This fall, voters in Nebraska and Colorado will consider anti-affirmative action initiatives that could affect existing programs which, many feel, have helped establish more opportunities for women and minorities while improving the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in educational institutions and in workplaces. What is your position on these anti-affirmative action initiatives?
  5. The National Science Foundation (NSF) currently has several programs intended to broaden participation in the STEM fields, i.e. the ADVANCE program. As President, how do you plan to maintain and/or strengthen existing NSF programs targeted to increasing diversity in STEM education?
  6. Women on average bear more of the family care-giving responsibilities than men. States such as California, Washington, and New Jersey have implemented paid family leave policies that provide partially paid leave for employees who need to care for seriously ill family members, newborns, and adoptive or foster children. What do you believe is the responsibility of the federal government with regard to paid family leave?
  7. Last summer, the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 11069), a bipartisan authorization bill to bolster U.S. competitiveness through sustained investments in science and engineering research and STEM education, was signed into law. To date, appropriations for the America COMPETES programs have not been consistent with the levels authorized by this bill. As President, how will you seek to ensure that this law is followed and that these funding levels are realized?
Read a side-by-side comparison of the candidates' responses (pdf).

For more on Obama's and McCain's positions on science, see:
Read more about the reports and legislation mentioned in the questions:
(via Pat at Fairer Science)

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