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WSA Initiatives

In addition to being involved in WSA activities within their Institute or Center (IC), WSA representatives participate in a number of NIH-wide initiatives. These include:

Anita B. Roberts Lectures

Highlights accomplishments of distinguished NIH women scientists.

NIH/WSA Scholars

Highlights accomplishments of intramural female postdoctoral fellows. Winners give a talk during a WSA/ORWH sponsored seminar.


WSA organizes tenure-track discussion groups. The Tenure-Track Investigator (TTI) / Assistant Clinical Investigator (ACI) discussion groups meet with senior investigators(tenured) roughly 3-4 times a year to discuss issues of interest to TTIs/ACIs. Examples of recent topics include – the tenure process at the Institute or Center (IC) and Central Tenure Committee (CTC) levels, obtaining letters of recommendation, work-life balance, managing collaborations, personnel issues, questions & answers (Q&A) from recently tenured NIH PIs, and, of course, research both basic and clinical. The organizational subject areas are meant to be very broad in nature. The primary focus is to provide an informal setting where participants can engage in candid discussions and develop contacts.

Current groups, leaders, and contact information:

Postdoctoral Fellow Survey to Addressing the Leaky Pipeline

Although approximately 50% of biological/health-related post-doctoral fellows at NIH, as throughout the US, are women, the percentage of women, who pursue independent research positions, is much lower. For example, the number of women applicants for the Stadtman search was 29% and 25.4% for years 2014 and 2015, respectively. A 15-year tracking of men and women post-docs at NIEHS, done by Dr. Tammy Collins (Director, Office of Fellow’s Career Development, NIEHS), revealed similar statistics. However, the reason for a discrepancy in career choices for men and women has not been established. Not understanding these reasons has certainly contributed to the fact that there has been little increase in the percentage of women in positions of PI and above at NIH in the past 25 years.

At the urging of Dr. Michael Gottesman (DDIR), the WSA developed a post-doc exit survey to uncover the reasons for these gender differences in career choices. The objective of the survey is to determine the career tracks for post-docs, why a post-doc chose a particular track, and how these tracks differ among men and women and other underrepresented groups.

This post-doc exit survey is administered by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES). When a post-doctoral fellow is leaving NIH and goes to the FAES office in Building 10 to terminate their medical insurance, they are given the opportunity to take the survey. To encourage participation, FAES generously offers a $5 gift card, which can be used at the coffee shop just down the hall from the FAES office, to those who agree. The survey became operational in the summer of 2017.

Representation on NIH-wide Committees

  • Intramural committee of NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers
  • The NIH-Equity committee
  • Women of Color in Biomedical Careers Committee

Increasing the Visibility of NIH Women Scientists and Promote the NIH Mission

  • WSA nominated WALS speakers
  • WSA nominated NIH research symposium
  • Nominate NIH women scientists for National Awards

Promoting Women for Leadership

The WSA is currently planning a workshop for Fall 2018 and assembling a committee to facilitate nomination of IRP women for national and international awards.

Other Topics Related to Gender Equity in Science

Examples include periodic salary evaluations and active involvement in anti-harassment policy development at the NIH. If you have concerns regarding gender equity in science, please contact your IC’s WSA representative.

This page was last updated on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - 2:50pm