Sep 5, 2019

Tech Fellowships Aim to Bridge STEM Skills Gap on Capitol Hill

From Bloomberg Government

Capitol Hill's STEM Skills Gap Targeted by Tech Fellowships

By Rebecca Kern

Congress's lack of a sophisticated understanding of the current state of science and technology was made apparent during hearings with Facebook and other tech companies. “There is a large skills gap in Congress in terms of people who have had training in technology,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), one of the four members of Congress with a computer science degree.

To resolve this concern, technology advocates and lawmakers are looking to implement fellowship programs to increase the level of technical expertise on Capitol Hill. Programs like Tech Congress and Aspen Tech Policy Hub see this as an opportunity to train technologists and engineers on public policy to eventually educate lawmakers. 

In the 116th Congress, there were 11 engineers: ten in the House and one in the Senate. Despite the lack of members in Congress with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math, there is a steady supply of interested technologists who want to work on Capitol Hill. 

Deirde Mulligan, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Information, notes this growing interest in public interest technology, but also points out potential roadblocks. Mulligan states, "I think the pipeline is growing and the pipeline is super thin, meaning, the career paths for students, the opportunities to do fellowships, are still pretty sparse."

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Deirdre K. Mulligan is an associate professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, a faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and a faculty advisor to the Center for Technology, Society & Policy. Mulligan’s research explores legal and technical means of protecting values such as privacy, freedom of expression, and fairness in emerging technical systems.

Last updated:

October 2, 2019