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A Message from the Acting EDI Director

Shelma Little

Representation Matters! Representation can be defined as the portrayal of someone or something in a particular way. Given this definition, not only does representation matter, positive representation matters. Seeing others who look like you succeed is empowering. These role models are critical in increasing representation and can contribute to creating a sense of belonging. This year's Women's History Month campaign focuses on representation and highlights the power of identity, inclusion, and belonging.

NIH is a microcosm of society. Currently we see the excitement surrounding the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will be the sixth woman and first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court in its 233-year history. Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1981. We salute the many trailblazing women who have succeeded in all segments of society despite structural barriers. These women pave the way for others, and they serve as role models inspiring the next generation. Because they did, others believe they can. Representation Matters!

Just as representation is important in larger society, it is equally important in the NIH work environment. In 2002, there were fewer than 10 women serving as Executive Officers here at NIH; today, 17 women serve in this prestigious role. Women currently make up more than half of all Executive Officers. Not only are women well represented at this rank, but there is also racial and ethnic diversity within this group. We honor these women as they provide executive leadership and oversight for the business and administrative functions of the NIH Institutes and Centers.

As we cultivate a culture of inclusion where diverse talent is leveraged, we strive to embrace the social identities of all employees, encourage their engagement, respect their viewpoints, and foster a sense of connection to the work environment and mission. We want every employee to have a sense of belonging. Belonging exists within organizations when employees are recognized for their contributions, connected to their co-workers, supported in carrying out their duties, encouraged in their career development, and pleased with the organization’s values and mission.

We have dedicated the focus of the 2022 Women's History Month campaign to the value of representation. Join us as we share profiles of women in positions of influence who are making a difference at NIH.

Please contribute to the conversation on social media and tell us what representation means to you. You can follow EDI on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram at @NIH_EDI and use #NIH_WHM to take part in the campaign. Be sure to check out the resources, blogs, and other new content on the EDI Women’s History Month webpage.

Shelma Middleton Little Ph.D., Acting EDI Director

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