National Institutes of Health Women Scientist Advisors Committee

Women Scientist Advisors Committee 



Women constitute less than 20% of the senior investigators at NIH. This number has not risen significantly in the past 15 years despite the fact that 50% or more of U.S. Ph.Ds in the life sciences are awarded to women. The Women Scientist Advisors (WSAs) are the elected representatives of women from each IC whose function is to represent the interests of women scientists at the NIH. We aim to raise awareness of issues facing women scientists and to work towards improving women's representation in the NIH faculty at all levels. 

History of the WSA Committee
The WSA committee was formed in 1993 in response to recommendations of a task force established by Dr. Bernadine Healy, then Director of NIH, to examine the status of intramural women scientists. The Task Force, which included about 15 intramural scientists and was chaired by Dr. Hynda Kleinman, issued a final report in November 1992. Among the recommendations was that each IC should have a Woman Scientist Advisor (WSA). These recommendations were unanimously approved by the Scientific Directors at their meeting of November 4, 1992.

Duties and Activities of a WSA
1. Hold regular meetings with her Scientific Director in order to advise him/her about issues relevant to women scientists. Attend Lab/Branch Chief meetings to serve as a representative of women scientists.  

2. Inform the Institute's women scientists on issues which will affect them (ie, tenure track and staff scientist policy decisions) and solicit their opinions.   
3. Organize meetings for the women scientists, to discuss issues of general concern, or to present programs of general interest.     
4. Serve, or designate an alternate woman scientist (from her own IC, another IC, or even from the extramural community) to serve, on tenure-track, tenured scientist, or lab/branch chief IC search committees. Detailed instructions on how searches are handled are available at   
5. Attend WSA committee meetings (once a month) where issues of concern to all NIH women scientists are discussed. Examples include:
-pay equity -resource allocations/their impact on productivity  
-work and family life issues. NIH Work And Family Life Center  
-the hazards of working with radiation regarding pregnancy. Radiation Safety  

6. Subcommittees may be established to deal with specific issues, such as monitoring resource allocations, awards, or handling arrangements for lectures.  

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