Scientists in State Politics

Scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals in U.S. state legislatures:
A Database (March 2021)

Addressing almost any issue – from facial recognition usage and automated vehicles to wildfires, superstorms and the many ramifications of pandemics – requires policymakers at all levels of government to quickly make critical decisions that are informed by increasingly complex scientific data and understanding.

With this database, the Eagleton Science and Politics Initiative presents the first iteration of a publicly accessible national inventory of elected state legislators with scientific, engineering and healthcare training.

Who is classified as a scientist, engineer or a healthcare professional?

The identification of state legislators as scientists, engineers, or healthcare professionals was based on available information about members’ education and cross-referenced against selected categories from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The resulting educational criteria for each category are as follows:

Scientist – master’s or doctoral degree in a natural science including biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, or a related field

Engineer – master’s or doctoral degree in electrical, systems, civil, mechanical, computer, chemical, or biomedical engineering, or a related field

Healthcare professional – professional degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and related fields; or a bachelor’s degree in nursing

 

Findings

Only 3% of state legislators nationwide are scientists, engineers or healthcare professionals.
New Hampshire, Georgia, and Texas have the highest number of scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals in their state legislatures.

 

Of the three groups, healthcare professionals are the most represented in state legislatures (197) followed by scientists (20) and then engineers (11).

 

Most scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals in U.S. state legislatures are white and male. A majority of the healthcare professionals and engineers are Republican, while most scientists are Democrats.

 

Scientists in State Politics Database

For further information on this project including its methodology, or to submit corrections or suggestions, please contact Anna Dulencin, Ph.D., Sr. Program Coordinator, Eagleton Science and Politics Initiative, at anna.dulencin@eagleton.rutgers.edu.

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