In November 2014, nine senior female scientists at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) requested a meeting with their director. Their concern: that the careers of women at the institute’s Division of Intramural Research (DIR) were being stymied by its powerful scientific director, Constantine Stratakis. They complained that the number of tenured and tenure-track female scientists in the then–$177 million division was at a historic low, and they said women were starkly lacking among its leaders. They wanted more women recruited and better retention of female talent.
After the meeting, then-NICHD Director Alan Guttmacher wrote in an email forwarded to the women: “There is wide agreement that we have a serious problem.” He added that he looked forward to “action … which actually makes a difference.”