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NIH Take Note

Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times' Economix blog reports on a study out of the University of California, Berkeley, in which researchers discuss reasons why "many women PhDs leave the research science pipeline." In a paper prepared for the "Focus on Workplace Flexibility" series sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Berkeley team shows that a lack of paid maternity leave and "huge time demands" are just two reasons female scientists choose to leave the lab. (In December, Greenhouse examined another report commissioned for the Sloan Foundation-sponsored series, in which Harvard researchers outline consequences for female professors who opt to take time off to raise their children.) In its report, the Berkeley team also says that universities ought to adopt more family-friendly policies in order to retain female science professors.

In a comment at DrugMonkey's blog, reader [email protected] says that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's CV format includes a designated place for grant applicants to list any expected "Interruptions and Delays," including, CIHR says, "maternity/parental leave," among other things. DrugMonkey calls this "brilliant," and says that "the NIH needs to adopt this right away as a required line on their biosketch." Were it to do so, the agency would then acknowledge "that it is expected that NIH applicants will have had delays in their career progress or scientific projects due to certain personal and family-related factors," he adds. In addition, if NIH made this "simple change," DrugMonkey predicts that "it would result in a few more meritorious grants being funded despite the apparent 'delay' introduced by a woman PI bearing children."

Update: NIH announced a modification to its biosketch format that allows investigators to list any potential disruptions to their research programs.

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