NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

National Academies Hold Symposium on Women in Science

Dr. Clayton speaks at the podium.
ORWH director Dr. Janine Clayton (r) speaks at the Symposium on the Underrepresentation of Women in Science. Shown seated are (from l) Dr. Suzi Iacono of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Marlene Kaplan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Dr. Diann McCants of Strategic Analysis, Inc.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) presented a recent symposium highlighting evidence-based interventions to address the underrepresentation of women in science, engineering and medicine. Held in Washington, D.C., the meeting was supported by NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, the National Science Foundation and the L’Oréal Foundation. 

The symposium addressed institutional barriers hindering women from pursuing science careers and examined policies, practices and strategies that have been effective in opening doors to women in the sciences. Dr. Donna Shalala, former HHS secretary and current U.S. congresswoman representing Florida’s 27th district, delivered the keynote address. She chaired the NAS committee that issued the seminal report Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. Dr. Vivian Pinn, first full-time director of ORWH, introduced Shalala. 

ORWH director Dr. Janine Clayton participated in a panel on scientific agencies and foundations designed to improve women’s representation in the sciences. 

The event also informed an ongoing NASEM consensus study chaired by Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut and the first African-American woman to travel into space. The study, due in the spring of 2020, will examine data on why women are underrepresented in the sciences, help institutions understand how to remove barriers that impede women in scientific careers and recommend evidence-based practices and strategies to improve representation of women in scientific disciplines, particularly in leadership roles. 

Symposium organizers have made available videos of the sessions ( as well as additional event materials (

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