Emails Reveal Grassley Opposition To Promoting Women In Science

Senator Chuck Grassley didn’t want to encourage specifically young women in pursuing careers in science, the Iowa Daily Democrat discovered through an open records request of email correspondence between Kim Reynold’s office, Grassley’s office and the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce. The emails cover a two day period in February 2016 as Reynolds’ office tries to get Grassley to join an op-ed on the issue.

Robert Haus, Chief Advisor to Reynolds, and Beth Levine, Grassley’s Press Secretary, were emailing back and forth with Vasu Abhiraman, a representative to the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce. Michelle Lee, the Undersecretary of Commerce, had been to Iowa and was preparing a draft for an op-ed promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Iowa newspapers. One of the goals of the op-ed was to inspire young women to consider careers in the STEM field.

National data show women are employed in about half of all jobs in the U.S., but they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. Women working in STEM fields earned 33% more than comparable women in other fields, and STEM jobs have a lower gender pay gap.

The Commerce representative in the email below asks Haus to assist in getting Grassley to join the op-ed. The focus of the op-ed was to highlight the gender-gap in STEM education.

From: Abhiraman, Vasu [mailto:Vasu.Abhiraman@USPTO.GOV]
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 9:38 AM
To: Haus, Bob [IGOV]
Subject: RE: Op ed draft

Hi Bob,

I left you a VM, covering two things:

We would love to explore having Sen Grassley on the byline for the joint op-ed, and I realized that sooner is better for that. If you could contact Grassley’s team about it, that would be wonderful. And please feel free to forward the meeting invite to someone from his shop. Would be great to have them on board.

Any update on the draft? It would help us a lot if we could read it prior to the call so that we can figure out next steps content wise.

Thanks for the help, sir!

Levine from Grassley’s office got involved. She began pushing back on the draft’s focus on young women. Below she sends an email to Haus noting Grassley’s objection to focus on women and girls (“LG” refers to Reynolds, “CEG” to Grassley).

From: Pellett Levine, Beth (Grassley) []
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 12:03 PM
To: Haus, Bob [IGOV]
Subject: RE: Op Ed submission

I’m running this around here, but I think we’re struggling with the sole focus on women/girls in STEM focus.  I know that’s a very big focus for the LG but CEG’s mantra is that we need more of every demographic.  Not sure if changing that focus is a deal breaker for you.

Haus sends a note to Grassley’s office and tells them he’s reworking the draft and asks for their opinion on his rewrite. Grassley’s office responds that they just need to take out female focus.

From: Pellett Levine, Beth (Grassley) []
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 4:39 PM
To: Haus, Bob [IGOV]
Subject: RE: Op Ed submission

Ha.  No question.  Just taking out a decent amount of the female focus. J

Haus follows up to ask if there’s anything specific that Grassley has done on STEM that they would like included. Levine responds:

From: Levine, Beth (Judiciary-Rep)
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:04 PM
To: ‘Haus, Bob [IGOV]’ < <>>; Pellett Levine, Beth (Grassley) < <>>
Subject: RE: Op Ed submission

Thanks, Bob.  Whatever you guys want to do.  FWIW-I liked what you had written.

I’m attaching what I worked on last night.  One concern that Jill had with my draft was the undercurrent of federal involvement in education…which neither of us want to imply.  I hadn’t gotten around to modifying again, but this may be of help to you, too.

The thing about this event is that Grassley hasn’t done much on STEM.  His focus has been on Gifted and Talented, which tangentially relates to STEM.  I think it’s best to focus, from our perspective, is Grassley’s chairmanship bringing the PTO director to Iowa.  As you can see in the attached, there’s some argument about the constitutional provision as it relates to patents, so we just leave that out of our talkers.  J

The next day Haus sends the Commerce representative an email and breaks the news that the op-ed must be gender neutral to satisfy Grassley.

Abhiraman, the Commerce representative, responds and protests the gender neutral revision.

From: Abhiraman, Vasu [mailto:Vasu.Abhiraman@USPTO.GOV]
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2016 9:54 AM
To: Haus, Bob [IGOV]
Subject: RE: Op ed draft

I think we need to discuss a content change like that, esp since our teams are good with the language. I feel like making it gender neutral removes a ton of the language we like & what makes it compelling. Maybe it could be worth not putting the Senator on the byline then? That would remove the 15% of inventors line, the Grace Hopper reference…. Really a lot of the op-ed

Later that day Grassley’s office emailed Haus to inform him that they wouldn’t participate in the op-ed. An op-ed was published in the Des Moines Register on February 19th by Michelle Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce. Interestingly, the op-ed ended up not including any focus on gender or many of the specific references to female scientists that Abhiraman had wanted. It seems Grassley’s involvement in the matter may have ended up neutering the language of the op-ed even without his name on the byline, though Lee did talk about women in STEM in her remarks in Iowa.



by Rick Smith
Posted 9/9/16

15 Comments on "Emails Reveal Grassley Opposition To Promoting Women In Science"

    • You mis=represented what was said … here is the actual quote.

      “I’m running this around here, but I think we’re struggling with the sole focus on women/girls in STEM focus. I know that’s a very big focus for the LG but CEG’s mantra is that we need more of every demographic”

      Grassley supports women, he supports STEM and he supports all demographics.

      Get the facts straight.

  • Really? This is reaching for a straw, if this is the best the democrats can come up with, god help them come November. Grassley has been a master wobbler on issues his entire senate career. His most egregious stands have come since the rise of influences on the republican party by the born-again, and tea partiers steering its agendas. It’s within those issues that you’ll find plenty of controversial, close-minded issues to beat him up with. This one you picked goes right past the average voter, and at best considers the intellectual one, and if nobody at the democratic party has noticed the latter is not more than a itsy-bitsy portion of voters!

    • Yep. That is why they work to promote education for girls and women. Sexist pigs think they can pay women less and not promote science and math for women

  • Senator Grassley is strictly for the huge corps. and extreme rich. He is discriminating against women and people of color. He stands only for huge corps. and extremely rich. If you dig that, then vote for him. He was elected to serve ALL of the people, not just a chosen few. He wants the wage earners to be at the bottom of the barrel. That’s what he stands for. If you dig that too, then get some more people to vote for him too. This is not only my opinion, it’s the opinion of thousands of others also. In my opinion, he loves the $$$$$$ pouring in to him and his war chest too much to retire.

        • Sen Grassley works for the average person. He is against discriminating against women and minorities. Every year he goes to every county in Iowa to stay in touch with his constituents. He promotes economic policies that support raising wages in the job market for all Americans. He supports limited government so that people at the bottom of the barrel can thrive instead of having to depend on an expensive, bloated government giving handouts.

          You obviously do not know Sen. Grassley or have a command of what he has done.

  • Or you could read this that Grassley thinks that STEM positions are extremely important and every American, regardless of gender, should have an equal opportunity to pursue them.

    • So Brandstad must only want STEM push for women then? Since his team is working with many large companies in Iowa to help push this agenda…

  • Grassley and several other senators (Democrats and Republicans) are co-sponsoring legislation S. 2829- which addresses sexual harassment and assault on board federal NOAA science vessels as well as within the U.S. Maritime Academy. This legislation would have a real impact on retaining and recruiting women into STEM fields and yet representatives in the House (including those reps from Iowa) have failed to support the legislation now that it has made its way to the House. If we Democrats are actually interested in promoting women in STEM we need more a more constructive strategy than rehashing staffer emails. Democrats should support or enhance S.2829 and start proposing similar legislation.

  • Let’s talk about what the Clinton’s are doing to promote her election … its called hate speech.

    Hillary Clinton cannot talk about her policies because they are the same failed policies of Obama’s. She doesn’t want to explain all her lies about Benghazi, her private email server or her foreign policy failures. North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon, Iran is on the way to a nuclear weapons, Obama paid $1.7 billion in cash to ransom Americans and gave the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism $150 billion. The US is disrespected around the world under their leadership.

    Bill Clinton said that the slogan, “Make America Great Again” was racist. Really? Check the Bill Clinton campaigns and you will find that Bill Clinton used these same words to describe his campaign. When you cannot make a reasoned argument on policy the Clinton’s resort to calling people racist.

    Chelsea Clinton said this about Donald Trump, “sad, misogynistic, sexist rhetoric”.  Do you suppose she got her father mixed up with her speech???

    “A basket of deplorables”, thats what Hillary Clinton said insulting the American people. This is the same person who had the gall to lie to the families of people who died at Benghzi that a video caused the terrorist attack while telling her daughter something different.

    Donald Trump has struck many nerves with the Clinton’s exposing their repeated failures. Donald Trump has captured the high ground on jobs, economics, national security, immgration and other issues. Clinton cannot respond on the issues so she resorts to name-calling.

    Name-calling is Hillary’s only hope.

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