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Programmatic Efforts at the National Institutes of Health to Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical Science

Plank-Bazinet, Jennifer L. PhD; Bunker Whittington, Kjersten PhD; Cassidy, Sara K.B. PhD; Filart, Rosemarie MD, MPH, MBA; Cornelison, Terri L. MD, PhD; Begg, Lisa DrPH, RN; Austin Clayton, Janine MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001239
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Although women have reached parity at the training level in the biological sciences and medicine, they are still significantly underrepresented in the professoriate and in mid- and senior-level life science positions. Considerable effort has been devoted by individuals and organizations across science sectors to understanding this disparity and to developing interventions in support of women’s career development. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) formed the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) in 1990 with the goals of supporting initiatives to improve women’s health and providing opportunities and support for the recruitment, retention, reentry, and sustained advancement of women in biomedical careers. Here, the authors review several accomplishments and flagship activities initiated by the NIH and ORWH in support of women’s career development during this time. These include programming to support researchers returning to the workforce after a period away (Research Supplements to Promote Reentry into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers), career development awards made through the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health program, and trans-NIH involvement and activities stemming from the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers. These innovative programs have contributed to advancement of women by supporting the professional and personal needs of women in science. The authors discuss the unique opportunities that accompany NIH partnerships with the scientific community, and conclude with a summary of the impact of these programs on women in science.

J.L. Plank-Bazinet is health scientist administrator, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

K. Bunker Whittington is science and technology fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and associate professor, Department of Sociology, Reed College, Portland, Oregon.

S.K.B. Cassidy is a postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award fellow, National Human Genomics Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

R. Filart is director of inpatient consultation, vice chair of research, and associate professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.

T.L. Cornelison is associate director for clinical research, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

L. Begg is research program officer, Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

J. Austin Clayton is director, Office of Research on Women’s Health, and associate director for women’s health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Funding/Support: National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to J. Plank-Bazinet, 6707 Democracy Blvd., Suite 400, Bethesda, MD 20817; telephone: (301) 496-8931; e-mail: jennifer.plank@nih.gov.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges