Widening the Scientific Circle

The following is a summary of NIH's new "Guidelines on Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in NIH-Sponsored and/or -Supported Intramural and Extramural Scientific Meetings and Conferences." The guidelines, inspired by a similar effort by the National Science Foundation, took effect March 31 and help to fulfill the diversity requirements of the NIH Revitalization Act.

It is NIH policy that organizers of scientific meetings should make a concerted effort to achieve appropriate representation of women, racial/ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and other individuals who have been traditionally underrepresented in science in all NIH-sponsored and/or supported scientific meetings. In addition, organizers who name NIH as a sponsor or use NIH facilities must make a concerted effort to achieve appropriate representation in compliance with this policy. "Appropriate" means representation based on the availability of scientists from these groups known to be working in a particular field of biomedical or behavioral research.

The plans to seek appropriate representation should be specified during selection of organizing committees, speakers, and other invited participants, such as session chairs and panel discussants. In addition, efforts should be made to encourage attendance by women, minorities, and persons with disabilities at all NIH-sponsored and/or -supported scientific meetings as a means of increasing their participation in the particular scientific field. The plans to seek appropriate representation will be included as an evaluation criterion during review of the requests for funding for these meetings.

This policy shall apply to all domestic or international scientific meetings sponsored by and/or receiving support from NIH. "Scientific meetings" include all meetings, conferences, workshops, symposia, seminar series, and lectures that involve planning committees, expenditure of funds, invited participants, and that are nationally or internationally advertised. Such meetings may be initiated by NIH's institute, center, or division (ICD) extramural and intramural programs or by contracts, or they may be investigator-initiated request for grants or cooperative agreements. Reasonable efforts should be made, as well, to fulfill the goal of this policy for single seminars sponsored by NIH laboratories or extramural programs.

NIH's extramural and intramural staff who initiate scientific meetings must comply with this policy. It is the responsibility of the ICD directors to implement this policy. The NIH director will ensure that all extramural and intramural programs comply with this policy.

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