Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

representation of women of color among its workforce, NASA sponsors programs focused on strengthening the educational pathways in STEM disciplines through education and outreach programs for science and math teachers and middle-school girls, and through grants programs that include internships and scholarships.

Buchholz emphasized the importance of first-line supervisors in increasing the numbers of talented women of color at NASA, given these supervisors’ key roles in hiring, promoting, mentoring, and distributing work assignments. One strategy employed by NASA that has been successful is to increase division leaders’ awareness of the diversity (or lack thereof) in NASA’s workforce and to create a structure whereby they are accountable for their specific efforts to increase it. To this end, NASA launched its “State of the People” report, a short, visual report documenting the diversity of the NASA workforce throughout the organization, and division leaders are regularly convened to discuss the state of their divisions and their plans for improvement.


Muriel Poston, director of the Human Resource Development Division of the Education Directorate at NSF, discussed initiatives at the agency, which is devoted to research and innovation through funding basic science. Regarding NSF’s workforce, Poston described the Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering and NSF’s biennial report with data on the participation of people from underrepresented minorities in its proposal pool and workforce. In NSF’s temporary and permanent scientific and professional staff, women of color made up 8.6 percent in 2007 and 10.3 percent in 2010 (30 and 50 individuals, respectively). Regarding principal investigators on NSF awards, women of color constituted less than 5 percent in 2004 and 2010, compared to white women, who constituted 17.5 percent.

NSF’s premier program supporting all women is the ADVANCE program (Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers), the discussion of which she deferred to the next panel on successful practices.

Poston discussed NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative, which grew out of the ADVANCE program. This initiative offers an opportunity for all women to look at how their funding can support dependent care or personal concerns that require them to step away from their research for a short period of time. The Career-Life Balance Initiative is also linked to NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development award (CAREER program) for pre-tenured faculty, as it provides additional funding for technical research support for women who choose to take dependent care leave.

Poston described NSF’s Research on Gender in Science and Engineering program, which sponsors formal and informal educational initiatives supporting women and girls from diverse populations. This program also invests in fundamental research on the types of barriers that arise for women in STEM careers and the theoretical frameworks for addressing those barriers.


Janine Clayton, director of Office of Research on Women’s Health at NIH, introduced the agency and its mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature of the behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to improve human health. Among NIH employees at the GS13-15 levels in science and engineering fields, women of color make up 5.83 percent, of

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement