The NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers was created in 2007 in response to the National Academies report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, which called for broad, innovative action to overcome institutional and environmental barriers to advancement at all career stages for women.

The Working Group is co-chaired by the NIH Director, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and the ORWH Director, Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., FARVO. NIH Deputy Directors and the Office of the Director (OD) senior staff, the Institute and Center (IC) Directors, and other representatives of NIH intramural and extramural staff comprise the group. The Working Group has sponsored national workshops on mentoring women in biomedical careers and other programs. The NIH Working Group's mandate is:

  • To maximize the potential of women scientists and engineers
  • To consider how programs and policies it has created give attention to the NIH intramural communities and the concerns of intramural women
  • To consider the broader context of girls and women in science
  • To provide special attention to issues of barriers, minority women scientists, and mentoring

The NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers is a trans-NIH effort.

Achievements of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers

  • NIH Support for the Careers of Women in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and Engineering. NIH funded 14 grants investigating causal factors and interventions affecting the careers of women in biomedical and behavioral sciences and engineering
  • Paid parent leave extension for NIH intramural trainees to eight weeks
  • Tenure-clock modification for NIH intramural scientists that automatically incorporates an additional year to accommodate family leave
  • A program for short-term back-up care for children, elders, and adult dependents of NIH employees
  • The "Keep the Thread" program: an accommodation program for intramural postdoctoral fellows that offers flexible schedule options and part-time work options
  • leave bank program that provides additional paid leave so NIH employees can attend to family responsibilities
  • NIH family-friendly policies and resources summaries for the extramural community
  • NIH Support for Conferences and Scientific Meetings update to require that applicants "Describe plans to identify resources for child care and other types of family care at the conference site to allow individuals with family care responsibilities to attend"
  • Biosketch section modification to NIH grant applications to allow applicants to "briefly describe factors such as family care responsibilities, illness, disability, and active duty military service that may have affected your scientific advancement or productivity"
  • Establishment of the Women of Color Research Network (WOCRN) 
  • Nominated women and women of color for awards and prestigious presentations