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Mostly Support

US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins announced last month that that he would avoid participating in scientific meetings where speakers were predominantly men, and he now tells NPR that he has mostly received support for his pledge.

"Most of the men that I've heard from have been extremely supportive. And some of them have also gotten out there to say, OK, me too. I'm not going to do this, either," Collins tells NPR's Audie Cornish. He adds that he has even told one meeting that sought him as speaker that they'd have to change their lineup if they want him to attend.

Collins notes that he has gotten some "cranky" responses from some individuals, but, he argues, "their perspectives are unsupported by data and are frankly offensive to women."

Cornish points out, though, that many of Collins' deputies at NIH are men and that a recent survey found that about a quarter of women at NIH had experienced gender harassment. Collins says that the agency is trying to recruit more female institute heads and that his director's advisory committee has seven new members, all women.