Saturday , 1 August 2015
Inspiring Lives

Why Smart Women Succeeding Means So Much

I have something of a nerd crush on the people at the National Science Foundation.

Well, at least the ones I’ve had the privilege of interviewing so far. They exude care, depth, and wisdom, and I hope they’re the kind of people working in ALL of our government organizations. Speaking with them does make me proud to be an American, which is a sentiment I have certainly not always held.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wanda Ward, the Senior Advisor to the Director of the NSF, about their Career-Life Balance Initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to help young scientists and engineers, particularly women, deal with the competing demands of family obligations and career pursuits.

Why is the National Science Foundation particularly concerned about this?
Because they realized that many women were dropping out of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talent pool after achieving a PhD, mostly due to marriage and childbirth.

And this isn’t just related to science and engineering fields; it’s relevant to all the major career opportunities now open to women.

I don’t have a PhD myself, though I know many people who have gone through the trial of gaining one. It is not easy! But can you imagine, after years of the mind-wrenching toil required for gaining a doctorate, being forced to give it all up simply due to conflicts with your family obligations?

In the following 10-minute clip, Dr. Ward tells us why initiatives like NFS’s Career-Life Balance are so important not only for the sake of those individuals struggling to keep up with the demanding task of becoming a scientist or engineer, but for the country as a whole.

Later on in the interview, I had a chance to ask Dr. Ward about her own life’s journey. In this 5-minute clip, she speaks about how she’s benefited from NSF’s Career-Life Balance Initiative, and how the perspective she’s gained has inspired her to be an example for future generations.

If you would like more information on the National Science Foundation’s award opportunities for post-graduate scientists and engineers, please visit

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