ORWH hosted a virtual meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health (ACRWH) on April 21. ORWH Director Janine A. Clayton, M.D., provided opening comments that acknowledged the global changes that have occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reviewed early COVID-19 data relevant to ORWH’s mission, including some initial sex-specific findings. (For example, more men are dying of COVID-19 than women, and of the 210 nations and territories reporting on COVID-19 cases and deaths, only 19 are disaggregating the data by sex.) Dr. Clayton also described NIH’s efforts to mitigate the problem of maternal morbidity and mortality.
Dr. Clayton welcomed Xenia Tigno, Ph.D., ORWH’s first Associate Director for Careers. Melissa Ghim, Ph.D., and Lynn Morin, M.A., provided an update on the activities of the Careers Team. They provided an overview of the NIH committees and initiatives that promote diversity in the scientific workforce and a status update on the Challenge Prize for Faculty Gender Diversity, currently under development. The team also provided an update on the Institutional Approaches Initiative of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers to improve gender diversity in the biomedical workforce.
A panel discussion titled “Institutional Change: Lessons Learned,” moderated by Lisa Begg, Dr.P.H., RN, Senior Research Program Officer at ORWH, covered a variety of career-oriented programs of NIH, the National Science Foundation, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address, detailing the challenges to and possible solutions for women in the sciences. Her speech focused on the findings and recommendations from Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors—a consensus study report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)—and other consensus studies on women in science. She described women achieving parity in medical schools and other science graduate programs, women’s attrition from science careers, sexual harassment, and career mentorship.
After the keynote address, Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D., Acting Chief of Staff to the NIH Director and Associate Director for Science Policy at NIH, gave a presentation titled “NIH Efforts on Changing the Culture of Science to Maximize Talent and End Harassment.” She covered the NASEM report Sexual Harassment of Women, the NIH Anti-Harassment Steering Committee, the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, and relevant NIH policies, tools, resources, and programs developed to end sexual harassment at NIH. Dr. Wolinetz concluded by recommending that ACRWH members read the working group’s report Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment.
The ACRWH meeting concluded with a lively open discussion among committee members. More information on the ACRWH meeting is available on the ORWH website, and a videocast of the meeting is also available.