The United States National Science Foundation’s cross-directorate ADVANCE programme launched in 2001 was a national effort towards encouraging academic institutions to transform and to evolve policies and practices to facilitate careers for women scientists and engineers. By 2018, more than $297 million had been given to more than 179 institutions to encourage this effort. A major theme of ADVANCE centred on advancing women to senior leadership positions. Many of the institutional changes funded emphasize issues that are particularly significant for junior women. The focus on junior women remains critical, since if institutions do not evolve policies to attract and retain women, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), there will be no issues for senior women, because there will be few or no senior women. Attention needs to be given to the environment for senior women who represent a group of successful scientists who have made significant contributions to STEM and the broader profession.