Encouraging women to be stronger science advocates was the focus of Research!America’s President and CEO Mary Woolley’s remarks to the Rosalind Franklin Society board meeting on November 1.
Woolley noted that women’s contributions to science and participation in research has been historically overlooked. She recounted an experience early in her career as San Francisco project director for the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT). Women were not included in the MRFIT trial population. “At the time, MRFIT was the largest-ever National Institute of Health-funded clinical trial and it never occurred to the researchers that women should be included in the trial population,” Woolley lamented. The inclusion of women in clinical research evolved from an NIH policy into law 25 years ago. Woolley underscored that representation of women in Congress, in scientific leadership positions and in board rooms across the country is woefully low.
While slow, progress is being made to reduce gender disparities in science. Woolley pointed to the first female president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, recent American Association for the Advancement of Science presidents and female advocacy leaders in the public and private sector. Woolley urged the board to continue to advocate strongly for medical and health research to maintain U.S. global leadership in research and innovation. “We must continue to connect the dots between investments in research and growing a strong economy and boosting the health of Americans.”