The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently appointed Hannah Valantine, MD, as chief officer for scientific workforce diversity. This new position was created not only to focus on increasing diversity in biomedical science by expanding recruitment and retention, but also to promote inclusiveness and equity throughout the field.
Dr. Valantine’s appointment is important, because traditional approaches to encourage diversity in biomedical science have been largely unsuccessful. There is compelling evidence that a diverse group of individuals is more productive and more successful in essentially all professional arenas than a highly homogeneous group.
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is committed to increasing the presence of women and under-represented minorities in science. We do this through traditional avenues–such as providing help in preparing for exams and writing grants–and more importantly, through the nontraditional approach of eliminating bias, empowering individuals to advocate effectively for themselves, and encouraging self confidence. For example, a group from the institute began Advancing Women in Science and Medicine, which is designed to reduce the limits women unconsciously set on their own success.
The news from NIH is encouraging, because all available talent must be nurtured to help us face the challenges of making the US a healthier country.