Home > The Occasional Post on National Politics > We Need A Presidential Debate On Science!

We Need A Presidential Debate On Science!

Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney, over at the Intersection, have organized a call for a presidential debate on science and technology issues.

Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we, the undersigned, call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Medicine and Health, and Science and Technology Policy.

They’ve got a bunch of Big Names signed on to the effort, which is wonderful. Lots of bloggers are supporting the call as well, including a huge portion of my Sciblings. sciencedebate2008.jpg
Dr. Free-Ride has a post up with an excellent list of questions she’d like the candidates to answer. Here’s what I’d add:

  • Given that much scientific research is supported with public monies, what do you think should be done to ensure equal access to scientific education and employment for women and minorities?
  • The GAO has issued a report calling for the heads of the NSF, NASA, and the DOE to ensure Title IX compliance among grant recipients. What role do you see for federal agencies in ensuring Title IX compliance in science and engineering education and research?

As I looked over the list of Big Names who’ve signed on for the call for a presidential debate on science and technology, I was a bit dismayed to see how overwhelmingly male the list was. I had to wonder: are women scientists and engineers less interested in what our politicians think about science and engineering policy? Or were fewer women scientists and engineers approached and asked to be a part of the Big Name contingent? What about Shirley Jackson and Nancy Hopkins? What about the president of WEPAN, and/or WEPAN board members? What about presidents of SWE and AWIS?
I think I’ll send the WEPAN folks an email and encourage them to join in. Women’s voices need to be heard. Science and engineering policy is a women’s issue, too.

  1. Carpenter
    December 11, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I have a pretty jaded view about how politicians interact with science. I doubt a debate about science would yield anything from the candidates beyond platitudes. they usually just pay some lip service to tech type stuff then fund dumb shit like the international space station(surprise we learned that 0Gs is bad for you!) that sounds sexy instead of promoting real.

  2. DaVinci
    January 9, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I’m afraid a presidential debate on science would look like an HBO comedy special.

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