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How Your WSA Representatives are Chosen

The WSA representing each Institute and Center (IC) should: be a senior woman scientist of high standing who is familiar with the NIH. Each WSA is elected by the women scientists of her IC and serves a two-year term. A WSA can be elected for a second two-year term, but may not serve for more than a total of two terms. The IC women scientists can decide to elect an alternate, or a WSA-elect, to serve as back-up. In 2012, the Scientific Directors approved the recommendations below regarding the WSA governance.

Recommendations from the WSAs and two focus groups on women in science at the NIH (approved by Scientific Directors 2012)

To understand the major issues facing women in science in the NIH intramural program, the role of WSAs (Women Scientists Advisors), and whether changes were needed in how WSAs were functioning to serve the needs of women scientists, the Deputy Director for Intramural Research (DDIR) met with the WSAs on two occasions, and with two focus groups including senior and early career women scientists, scientific directors, and WSA representatives. The following was distilled from these four meetings.


  • The primary goal of the WSAs is to advance scientific careers and scientific contributions of women at the NIH. Any activities that detract from these goals should not be encouraged.
  • WSAs should be enthusiastic about serving in this capacity and should be chosen by their woman colleagues after they agree to serve, if elected.
  • Primary attention should be devoted to recruitment, retention, and recognition of women scientists and fair treatment with respect to salary, space, and other resources.


  • WSAs should be chosen by a vote of the women Principal Investigators (PIs) in each IC. In general, the WSAs should be PIs themselves (e.g., Senior Investigators, Investigators, Senior Scientists, Senior Clinicians, Assistant Clinical Investigators, or Adjunct Investigators). For ICs in which there are no women who want to be candidates for election as WSAs, liaisons should be formed with other intramural programs with women willing to represent women in other ICs.
  • The WSAs should meet quarterly as a group with administrative support from the Office of Intramural Research (OIR).
  • An Executive Committee of WSAs, consisting of 5 to 10 individuals, should manage activities involving multiple ICs, and should attend meetings of intramural subcommittee of the NIH Director’s Committee on Women in Science. The chair of the WSAs can be a rotating member of the Executive Committee.
  • WSAs (or their representatives) will no longer be required to serve on each search committee, but OIR will assure that one or more women scientists are participants in each search process.
  • Every effort should be made to increase women in scientific leadership positions at the NIH, especially top positions (IC Directors, Deputy Directors, Scientific Directors, Clinical Directors), including training programs as needed.

Please visit the Member List page of this web site to locate the WSA for your Institute or Center.

This page was last updated on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 2:52pm