which 4.61 percent are African American, 1.41 percent are Hispanic, and 0.21 percent are American Indian/Alaskan Native. Among NIH trainees, 6 to 7 percent are women of color (a percentage that does not include Asian women). While women constitute one-fourth to one-third of NIH grantees, women of color constitute just 1.4 percent.
Clayton described the activities of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, which was formed after the release of Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering in 2006. The current NIH director, Elias Zerhouni, and Vivian Pinn, the first full-time director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, sought to develop innovative strategies and identify tangible actions to address the concerns of women in NIH’s intramural and extramural communities.
The Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers includes several committees, each of which was charged with considering the impact on women of color in its area of focus. The Working Group includes the Women of Color Committee and the Women of Color Research Network (www.wocrn.nih.gov). The Women of Color Research Network’s website is a clearinghouse and a forum where scholars share information about role models, resources, and research on women of color in science and technology. The Research Network is open to all people concerned about diversity in academia.
Clayton outlined activities of the Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, which include:
• Increasing the family leave period for the NIH National Research Service Award
• Being a founding member of the mid-Atlantic Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, which helps dual-academic-career couples (www.midatlanticherc.org)
• Developing frequently asked questions that outline ways that child care can be achieved through NIH policies
• Developing a modification to the NIH biosketch that provides a place for a researcher to justify and explain gaps in his or her publication record
• Creating a “leave bank,” where intramural NIH researchers can donate unused leave time to others
• Co-sponsoring mentoring and career development conferences
• Expanding the eligibility for NIH re-entry supplements to include postdoctoral fellows
• Creating the three-year Back-Up Care program, which provides short-term care for children, elders, and adult dependents
• Establishing the “Keep the Thread” program, a re-entry program for intramural postdoctoral fellows that includes flexible scheduling options, part-time work options, and position-holding during extended leaves
• Planning the construction of additional onsite child care
Clayton described NIH’s commitment to informing future initiatives by funding research that identifies the factors behind the success of talented women in academic research programs—aspects of mentoring, aspects of interventions, and elements of barriers and obstacles. NIH released a request for proposals titled “Research on Causal Factors and Interventions that Promote and Support the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering,” with one of the grants focused on women of color. Also, the director of the NIH has two advisory committees on the biomedical workforce and on diversity.