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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jul 31;115(31):7943-7948. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800615115. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

NIH funding longevity by gender.

Author information

1
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
2
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892 Greenbej@nigms.NIH.gov.

Abstract

Women have achieved parity with men among biomedical science degree holders but remain underrepresented in academic positions. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-the world's largest public funder of biomedical research-receives less than one-third of its new grant applications from women. Correspondingly, women compose less than one-third of NIH research grantees, even though they are as successful as men in obtaining first-time grants. Our study examined women's and men's NIH funding trajectories over time (n = 34,770), exploring whether women remain funded at the same rate as men after receiving their first major research grants. A survival analysis demonstrated a slightly lower funding longevity for women. We next examined gender differences in application, review, and funding outcomes. Women individually held fewer grants, submitted fewer applications, and were less successful in renewing grants-factors that could lead to gender differences in funding longevity. Finally, two adjusted survival models that account for initial investigator characteristics or subsequent application behavior showed no gender differences, suggesting that the small observed longevity differences are affected by both sets of factors. Overall, given men's and women's generally comparable funding longevities, the data contradict the common assumption that women experience accelerated attrition compared with men across all career stages. Women's likelihood of sustaining NIH funding may be better than commonly perceived. This suggests a need to explore women's underrepresentation among initial NIH grantees, as well as their lower rates of new and renewal application submissions.

KEYWORDS:

NIH funding; National Institutes of Health; academia; biomedical workforce; gender disparities

PMID:
30012615
PMCID:
PMC6077749
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1800615115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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