A new NSF brochure (PDF here) was e-published today, explaining some novel initiatives aimed at retaining women in the STEM workforce, with a focus on women in academia. The brochure includes some recent stats in support of the effort, and NSF lays out its approach to mitigating some of the issues in the following way:
The goal of NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative is to help improve the proportion of women attaining full professorship positions at American colleges and universities by addressing the balance of scientists’ work with conflicting demands of life events (e.g., the birth or adoption of a child, raising children, or providing elderly dependent care). To that end, the agency will:
• Continue flexibility in timing the initiation of approved research grants.
• Continue no-cost extensions of awards.
• Continue grant supplements for research technicians or equivalent to sustain research when investigators need to provide family care.
• Encourage parental medical leave (paid, if possible), accommodations for dual-career couples, and part-time options.
• Support research and evaluation of advancement, attrition, and retention of women in STEM fields.
• Enhance the assessment and evaluation of NSF programs in terms of gender/diversity outcomes.
• Draw on relevant NSF Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering recommendations (2010) to address issues faced by women of color in STEM.
• Study and recognize best practices for career and life balance.
• Foster mutually beneficial international research and training collaborations that provide career-life balance opportunities.
• Ensure compliance with Title IX of The Civil Rights Act to prevent gender discrimination in education programs.
• Incorporate family-friendly practices and policies in NSF’s CAREER and all post doctoral programs.
• Further integrate and enhance work-life balance practices into additional program guidelines, including for Graduate Research Fellows and ADVANCE, and subsequently through the broader portfolio of NSF activities, consistent with federal guidelines.
• Collaborate with federal agencies and professional associations to exchange best practices, harmonize careerlife policies and practices, and overcome common barriers to career-life balance.
• Communicate broadly to the STEM community, in order to clarify and catalyze the adoption of a coherent and consistent set of career-life balance policies and practices.
• Lead by example to become a model agency for gender equity.
Are they on the right track?