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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Announces GAO Audit on Gender Discrimination in Federal STEM Research Funding

October 21, 2014
Press Release

ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to evaluate six federal agencies’ efforts to ensure non-discrimination in federal science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research programs. The top six federal funding agencies for STEM research accounted for 91 percent of the total federal STEM research budget in 2012. Those agencies include the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture, and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.Slaughter, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Eddie Bernice Johnson, requested the GAO audit in a letter to the agency last year.


“Women have made huge strides in STEM fields and their contributions have made a positive impact to the scientific community and America,” said Rep. Slaughter, who holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s in public health. “However, gender bias continues to limit the ability of women to fully carry out their research programs and excel in STEM fields. I thank the GAO for agreeing to our request and look forward to the information they provide about the barriers women face within our federal agencies. We can’t properly address gender inequality unless we know where it exists.”


The GAO plans on issuing two reports in pursuance of this review. The first is an interim report that will look at the various data collection systems at each funding agency and examine the variables that the agencies use in choosing successful grant proposals. The GAO will then determine if there are any discrepancies in federal grant funding between men and women.


Following the interim report, a full report will be made that focuses on identifying what factors may explain differences in funding between men and women in STEM fields; evaluating the extent to which federal agencies ensure that universities receiving federal research funds in STEM fields comply with Title IX; and determining actions federal agencies can take to address the representation of women in STEM research programs.