Balancing the Scale: NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative
"The development of world-class STEM talent positions the U.S. for future global
leadership in forging new and transformative discoveries, learning, and innovations,
in a time when other nations increasingly are developing and retaining their
own talent. However, although women and girls comprise a significant fraction of
the STEM talent pool, recent studies (e.g., Staying Competitive, 2009) have demonstrated
the adverse effect that lack of family friendly considerations have on women’s progression
to the top ranks of the scientific enterprise (especially academe). Family formation,
notably marriage and childbirth, is a key factor for the departure from the STEM
workforce between Ph.D. receipt and achieving tenure for women in the sciences.
Needed progress can take place only through changes in the attitudes, policies, and
practices that inform how we educate the workforce and manage in the workplace."
"It is timely therefore to provide incentives that will effect change in institutions that
result in gender-neutral policies and practices that lead to the increased participation
and advancement of women scientists and engineers in the scientific enterprise". ~ Dr. Subra Suresh
Applicability of NSF Career-Life Provisions
Life always has been, and is now, a balancing act. Given the close linkages between academic researchers and academic institutions, it is appropriate for NSF to take a leadership role in finding ways forward along the career-life path. This website has been designed to consolidate – and highlight – NSF’s efforts to clear the obstacles from the STEM Career-Life pathways leading from graduate education through to full professor.
In general, NSF policies and procedures support the ability of project personnel to address personal issues such as dependent care. For example, existing Foundation-wide policies permit the extension of NSF awards for researchers who take a leave of absence for dependent care responsibilities, as well as the use of NSF award funds to replace project personnel during a leave of absence. Those standard provisions are described in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) posted on this webpage.
In addition to these foundation-wide career-life policies and procedures, NSF provides several new opportunities in the specific solicitations highlighted below. These solicitations were chosen to introduce new paths, as they are considered to be our most prestigious and high-impact programs, serving graduate students (GRFP), postdoctoral fellows, early career academic awardees (CAREER) and institutions seeking to advance women in academia (ADVANCE).
White House Activities
NSF Career-Life Balance Guidance
Program Solicitations Promoting Career-Life Balance Policies
Federal Policy Requirements
Career-Life Balance Resources
- Relevant Reports
- Other Federal Agencies
- Community Best Practices - coming soon