Women’s health research is an essential part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research agenda. As part of its mission, the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) ensures that research conducted and supported by the NIH addresses issues regarding women's health. Established by Congress in 1990, ORWH works to stimulate and encourage basic and clinical research on the role of sex and gender in health and disease and to set NIH research priorities on diseases, disorders, and conditions that primarily affect women. ORWH also develops and supports initiatives to recruit, retain, and advance women in biomedical careers; programs that support both women and men in women’s health and sex differences research careers; and efforts to ensure that women are included in biomedical and bio-behavioral research studies funded by the NIH.
Women have been shown to be underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions, at senior faculty levels in most biomedical-relevant disciplines, and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines. ORWH is committed to increasing diversity in the biomedical field and understands the need to eliminate institutional and environmental barriers to advancement at all career stages.
Literature also shows that women from underrepresented backgrounds face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. For that reason, increasing the number of women in biomedical careers and offering support to women from all backgrounds and at all educational and career levels are of particular interest to the Office. ORWH Director, Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., co-chairs the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with the NIH Director, Francis S. Collins, MD, Ph.D. Through national workshops, policy changes and the development of grant programs, the Working Group aims to maximize the potential of women scientists and engineers.
In addition to its leadership on the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, ORWH’s dedication to increase diversity in the workplace can be seen in its mentored career development programs and various career development initiatives.
ORWH understands that including women and minorities in clinical research makes results stronger and more robust. We recognize the importance of having a diverse biomedical workforce. A stronger workforce is one that represents the world around us. Through its diversity programs, ORWH aims to accomplish its mission.