General information

NSF Career-Life Balance Program

The White House and NSF have pledged to improve the progress of women in the STEM disciplines. A significant component of this is addressing the historic lack of support for life changes associated with family formation. To address these challenges the National Science Foundation’s Career-Life Balance Initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh in September 2012, will build on the best of family-friendly practices among individual NSF programs to expand them to activities NSF-wide.

By the end of this ten-year initiative in 2021, it is expected that women will represent 41 percent of newly tenured doctoral S&E faculty, and that women of color will compromise 17 percent of newly tenured faculty, the same percentage of their PhD production rate in 2009.

As stated on the NSF CLB website, “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.”

The initiative will:

  • Allow postponement of grants for child birth/adoption
  • Allow grant suspension for parental leave
  • Provide grant supplements to hire research technicians that maintain labs while PIs are on family leave
  • Publicize the availability of family-friendly opportunities
  • Promote family friendliness for grant proposal panel reviewers, for example, allowing virtual meetings in lieu of travel
  • Support research and evaluation into the effectiveness of policies aimed at keeping women in the STEM pipeline
  • Encourage academic institutions to extend the tenure clock and allow for dual hiring opportunities

Read the Dear Colleague Letter for FY 2013 announcing the expansion of this program.

Visit NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative homepage.