KU News Release

Sept. 27, 2011
Contact: Jack Martin, KU Office of Public Affairs, 785-864-7100

Chancellor attends White House event to announce NSF initiative

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo of this event is available through the Associated Press)

At the invitation of First Lady Michelle Obama, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little attended a White House event Monday afternoon announcing a new National Science Foundation effort to provide greater work-related flexibility to women and men in research careers.

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The NSF is undertaking a 10-year effort to facilitate scientists’ reentry into their professions with minimal loss of momentum. Along with Obama, NSF Director Subra Suresh was one of the event’s featured speakers.

“Balancing work and family is a challenge everyone faces, but it is a particular challenge for young faculty members who are seeking to establish themselves. Promising young scholars shouldn’t be forced to choose between raising a family and excelling in their research and scholarship,” said Gray-Little.

NSF announced that will allow researchers to delay or suspend their grants for up to one year in order to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or fulfill other family obligations. The agency will also allow principal investigators to apply for stipends to pay research technicians or equivalent staff to maintain labs while PIs are on family leave.

KU automatically allows male and female faculty to stop the tenure clock for up to one year when they become a parent through birth, foster placement, or adoption of a child under the age of 5.

“Too many young women scientists and engineers get sidetracked or drop their promising careers because they find it too difficult to balance the needs of those careers and the needs of their families,” said Suresh during a Monday conference call. “This new initiative aims to change that, so that the country can benefit from the full range and diversity of its talent.”

According to the White House, women earn 41 percent of PhD’s in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, but make up only 28 percent of tenure-track faculty in those fields.

More information is available here.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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