|NSF Announces New Career-Life Balance Initiative|
September 27, 2011
The White House Council on Women and Girls, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Science Foundation held a national convocation at the White House on Monday to announce the NSF "Career-Life Balance Initiative." This ten-year plan is designed to "provide greater work-related flexibility to women and men in research careers," according to the press release from the Office of the White House Press Secretary.
The press release also stated: "NSF has launched targeted workplace flexibility efforts in the past, but the new initiative is the first to be applied Foundation-wide to help postdoctoral fellows and early-career faculty members more easily care for dependents while continuing their careers."
First Lady Michelle Obama gave remarks at the convocation. At one point, she called for "all hands on deck" to remove barriers to retention of women in science.
The First Lady's remarks were followed by a panel that included NSF Director Subra Suresh; White House Council on Women and Girls Executive Director Christina "Tina" Tchen; University of California- Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau; Purdue University School of Engineering Education Associate Professor Monica Cox; and The Dow Chemical Company Technology Collaboration Development Director Catherine T. "Katie" Hunt.
Among the topics discussed by the panel was the need for education of workplace leaders to alleviate their fears regarding "work-life balance" and loss of productivity in the workforce. In fact, said Tchen, workplace flexibility increases profitiablity and reduces turnover rates.
NPA Executive Director Cathee Johnson Phillips, who represented the NPA at the White House convocation, said, "The NPA applauds the NSF for this initiative, which is a definite step forward in retaining women scientists."
The NPA has funding from the NSF to promote the advancement of postdoc women to the professoriate and is working to help retain postdoc women in all science careers. Most recently, the NPA released its "Postdoc's Guide to Pregnancy and Maternity Leave."