Women Scientist Advisors (WSA) Committee
In 1991, Dr. Bernadine Healy, Director of NIH, established a Task Force to examine the status of intramural women scientists. The Task Force, which included about 15 intramural scientists and was chaired by Dr. Hynda Kleinman, issued a final report in November 1992. Among the recommendations was that each IC should have a Woman Scientist Advisor (WSA) (see attached). These recommendations were unanimously approved by the Scientific Directors at their meeting of November 4, 1992.
The WSA should (preferably) be a senior woman scientist of high standing who is familiar with the NIH.
Each WSA is elected by the women scientists of her IC and serves a two-year term. A WSA can be elected for a second two-year term, but may not serve for more than a total of two terms. The IC women scientists can decide to elect an alternate, or a WSA-elect, to serve as back-up. The Scientific Directors approved the following procedure for selection of WSAs at their meeting of February 3, 1993:
- Nomination of the WSA will be the result of an open election by both tenured and non-tenured women scientists in the intramural program of that IC. At the option of the Scientific Director, one or more names will be recommended from the elected candidates. The Scientific Director will appoint the WSA.
- In the case where the pool of intramural women scientists is too small from a given IC, WSA candidates can be directly recommended from a committee meeting of the women scientists, and the WSA selected by the Scientific Director.
Elections should be held in either April or October, so that brief orientations can be held for new WSAs in May/November.
For additional information regarding the NIH Women Scientist Advisors, please visit the WSA Scientific Interest Group (SIG) page.
Duties and Activities
- Hold regular meetings with her Scientific Director in order to advise him/her about issues relevant to women scientists. Attend Lab/Branch Chief meetings to serve as a representative of women scientists.
- Inform the Institute’s women scientists on issues which will affect them (i.e., tenure track and staff scientist policy decisions) and solicit their opinions.
- Organize meetings for the women scientists, to discuss issues of general concern, or to present programs of general interest.
- Serve, or designate an alternate woman scientist (from her own IC, another IC, or even from the extramural community) to serve, on tenure-track, tenured scientist, or lab/branch chief IC search committees. Detailed instructions on how searches are handled can be found by visiting the Tenure in the NIH IRP section
- Attend WSA committee meetings (approximately every 2 months) where issues of concern to all NIH women scientists are discussed. Examples include:
- Pay equity
- Resource allocations/their impact on productivity
- Work and family life issues
- The hazards of working with radiation re pregnancy
- The Margaret Pittman lecture (an NIH Lecture named for the first female NIH lab chief)
- Subcommittees may be established to deal with specific issues, such as monitoring resource allocations, awards, or handling arrangements for the Pittman lecture.
- The Anita B. Roberts Lecture Series: “Distinguished Women Scientists at NIH.” This series highlights outstanding research achievements of women scientists at the NIH. The seminar is dedicated to Dr. Anita Roberts and honors her role as an exceptional mentor and scientist.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, August 11, 2021