Is Congress STEM-literate?
While the 113th Congress is often touted as being the most diverse Congress ever, some still worry that STEM does not have enough of a presence. How does the distribution of individuals in Congress with some background in a STEM field after high school compare to the United States (adults ages 25+) as a whole? Here are the numbers:
Even though Congress has a higher proportion of STEM-educated individuals than the general public, it is worth noting the contrast in the House and Senate committees tasked with science issues. Many bills with substantive science content might be decided on in a committee where few individuals have a rigorous science background.
The 10% of bills that make it past the committee process are considered by a full Congress in which 10% of individuals have some background in STEM, 42% have a degree in law and 4% have no college education at all.
Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), a particle physicist and businessman, stresses the importance of “continually thinking of new ways to inject the rigor of science into the often messy give and take that is the essence of politics” – even if an individual does not know science content, an understanding of the scientific process is vital to formulating good policy for science and understanding how to use science for policy.