In 2006, the National Academies report Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering found women in the biomedical sciences face institutional and environmental barriers to advancement at all career stages. The report called for broad, innovative action from universities, professional societies, and government funding agencies.
As a response to the report, then-NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., established the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers in January 2007. He and others at NIH recognized that as one of the leaders in the biomedical community, NIH has an important role to play in removing barriers to success.
Dr. Zerhouni and Dr. Vivian W. Pinn, then-Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, served as the group’s first co-chairs. Initial efforts included national workshops on mentoring and best practices for sustained career success.
In January 2009, seven committees were formed to better focus on the Group’s priorities.
Since then, the Working Group and its committees have actively worked throughout NIH to support women in biomedical sciences at all levels of their education and careers.