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On September 26, 2011, White House Council on Women and Girls Executive Director Tina Tchen, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John P. Holdren, and National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Subra Suresh announced the “NSF Career-Life Balance Initiative,” a 10-year plan to provide greater work-related flexibility to women and men in research careers. The Initiative will allow researchers to delay or suspend their grants for up to one year in order to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or fulfill other family obligations.
The new initiative is the first to be applied NSF-wide to help postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty members more easily care for dependents while continuing their careers. The new initiative will offer a set of family-friendly policies and practices to help eliminate some of the barriers to women’s advancement and retention in STEM careers. The initiative will:
In addition to the NSF initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at a White House event about the importance of supporting and retaining women and girls in STEM careers. During the East Room event, the NSF discussed the announcement about retaining women in STEM fields. Alison O’Brien, past president of the ASM, attended the announcement at the White House. Several independent organizations and academic associations also announced initiatives in coordination with NSF and the White House, adding momentum to a nationwide shift that promises to strengthen the US economy and job security even as it strengthens families across the country.