The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced 72 new members last month, nearly 25 percent of them female, representing the largest proportion of women ever elected. But while the NAS has been criticized in the past for a paucity of women and other underrepresented groups in science among its members, this year's vote doesn't represent an attempt to redress the problem—at least not yet—according to NAS president Bruce Alberts.

The election of a record number of women had nothing to do with any formal efforts on the part of the NAS, said Alberts. Results just seemed to have "boiled up from below, and it really came from the membership, without any particular focus from the organization."

The new members boost the total number of women in the Academy to about 160, or approximately 8% of the 1,922 active members. However, that number still trails the estimated 14 percent of...

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