Skip to main content

Women Scientists Advisors (WSA)

Women Scientists Advisors (WSA) Logo

Women constitute less than 23% of the senior investigators at NIH. This number has not risen significantly in the past 25 years despite the fact that 50% or more of U.S. M.D. and Ph.D. in the life sciences are awarded to women. The Women Scientists Advisors (WSAs) are the elected representatives of women from each Institute or Center (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 on November 4, 1992.

Duties and Activities of a WSA

  1. Hold regular meetings with her Scientific Director 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 IC's women scientists on issues which will affect them (e.g, faculty) 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. Attend WSA committee meetings (4 times a year) 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
    • Promoting IRP women for leadership positions

This page was last updated on Thursday, May 13, 2021 - 2:04pm