I have an 11-year-old son who frequently approaches me with requests that I deem outlandish. Right now he wants a medieval sword for his birthday. When I say “no” without hesitation to his appeals, I’m promptly met with an exasperated “You’re not listening to me!” And he’s right. Sometimes I respond too quickly and fail to explore his perspective. I cement in my mind that I already know the right answer. But this time, my failure to talk about his birthday wish led to a frustrated, defeated child who felt unheard. I relay this story to remind everyone that sometimes we need to stop “knowing” and start listening.

Our feature article this month reports on the recent STRIVE initiative listening sessions, an interactive forum designed to garner input from the biomedical community on ways to improve the diversity of NICHD-supported scientists. Postbac fellow Ashley Pratt summarizes the listening sessions’ key themes so that we can all gain a better understanding of the obstacles facing underrepresented groups in science. These themes will inform a virtual workshop, “Path to Enhancing Scientific Workforce Diversity,” to be held this month on May 18, from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Check your emails for the invite. 

Continuing with the theme of listening, we encourage all NICHD trainees to attend the new Tenure-Track Investigator Symposium Series kicking off this month on May 12, at 1 p.m. Early career scientists offer fresh ideas and perspectives to their fields of study. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear about cutting-edge research during these once-a-month mini-symposia organized by our intramural tenure-track investigators. Other informative events this month can be found in the Rep Report and May announcements and events.

So, all that said, will I buy my son a medieval sword for his birthday? No. But I eventually listened to his reasons for wanting one—and maybe a few fencing lessons are in his future.  

Your Editor in Chief, 
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

This newsletter is for NICHD fellows and by NICHD fellows. We want to hear from you! Please send your questions, comments, and ideas to our editor at shana.spindler@nih.gov.