New NSF Initiative Provides Hope for Work-Life Balance in the STEM Fields

In late September 2011, the National Science Foundation –in collaboration with The White House—announced their 10-year plan to increase the retention of researchers, especially women in the STEM disciplines.   The “NSF Career-Life Balance Initiative” promises to provide researchers with increased flexibility in their work schedules to minimize the prominence of the seemingly all too prevalent standing ultimatum between work and family.   By implementing a series of changes, including allowing grant recipients to postpone their work for up to one year in the case of childbirth, adoption, or other parental concerns, the NSF sets a precedent in the scientific community of a feasible plan to promote balance between researchers’ careers and family.   This novel idea has the potential to revolutionize the current scenario at many academic institutions and universities.   Since the NSF funds 20% of federally-funded STEM research, institutions that host such research may have to follow suit with similar policies on other grants.   This is a watershed moment for career-life balance and the progress of our country in both business and science.  “If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, then we have to open doors to everyone,” said the First Lady Michelle Obama while speaking of the initiative.

Read more at the Harvard Magazine and the Penn Program on Regulation.