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A new analysis from the National Institutes of Health puts in stark relief the widening imbalance between men and women researchers as their careers progress. NIH grants’ staff members examined women's share of training grants and research awards arranged by career stage*. Women are quite visible early in the federal funding pipeline, holding about half of all training grants. But they receive only 27% of R01s, NIH's basic independent research grants that funds researchers throughout their careers. And women are awarded only 18% of all P30s, which are large center grants won by scientists with an average age of 60.

These numbers come with caveats. For one thing, they are a snapshot of gender distribution in a single year, 2008, and say nothing about the progression of any particular cohort. They also don’t show the relative supply of women at various points along the career continuum. But the results are consistent with other data showing women are more likely than men to drop off the career ladder, notes NIH extramural research chief Sally Rockey on her blog.

The data come from a paper appearing in the June issue of Academic Medicine that also explores application success rates for men and women. For the most part, they are the same. But experienced male scientists submit more R01 applications and they are more successful at renewing these grants than women. NIH is investigating the reasons.

Women's Share of NIH Grants Drops With Age

* Here is a guide to NIH's activity codes. In general, “F” designates a fellowship; “T” designates training grants; “K” designates a career development award; “R” designates independent research awards; “P” designates large projects and centers; and “U” designates a cooperative agreement.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
And that is depressing. My first thought (without having read the paper) was that it could have to do with career interruptions for child-bearing and rearing, but that wouldn't seem to correlate with the average age you cited for P30s.

We've come a long way, baby... but not nearly long enough.
May. 5th, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, and good luck on the grant.
May. 6th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)

P.S. Love both of your icons. :-)
May. 6th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
My first thought (without having read the paper) was that it could have to do with career interruptions for child-bearing and rearing, but that wouldn't seem to correlate with the average age you cited for P30s. It does, but only to some extent. A great many of the women I know who are in that 60+ cohort are childless. They never had their careers interrupted in that way. And it doesn't explain why mid-level women who are successful at getting that first R01, are unable to manage renewals. This is the boat I'm in. To be fair, I did manage it once, but that was before that paylines went into single digits. It just adds another layer of discouragement to an already depressing process. :-P
May. 6th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
Well that's disheartening and all around sucky =^( Is this why we got Viagra but nobody can cure PMS? Seriously. I mean what kind of diseases are not being looked at cause women aren't getting enough grants? Not cool.

By the way, what is your field of expertise? And good luck with your RO1 ( which I guess is an independent research grant?) =^)
May. 6th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
::points to icon:: I'm a molecular biologist, which is a fancy way of saying that I do basic science. My focus is on the enzymology of RNA transcriptional mechanism and regulation. In English, I study the hows and whys of DNA getting made into the RNA that eventually becomes protein or control switches in cells. The DNA Helicase TFIIH is one of the enzymes whose mechanism I investigate. I am certain this is more than you ever wanted to know. :-)

The sad thing about this isn't just that there are gender-specific diseases that are being given investigative short shrift - it's that about half of the Ph.Ds awarded in the biological sciences are to women. We're losing proportionally more women than men by mid career stage, because no funding = eventual loss of independent research position. Stupid and wasteful.
May. 6th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
Is there any way you could amend your proposal to include "erectile dysfunction"? 'Cause you'd get buried in money then.

Thewre is an old movie with George C. Scott and Diana Rigg, I believe it was "Hospital". In any case Scott had a line that went something like - "Why is that people think that the worst thing in the world is a limp dingus?"

All of this is trite of course, but I can't think of anything actually useful to say. It would be interesting to know the availabilty of females at those points, but I much doubt it would change anything much.

Perhaps things will be better for Miss M, but in a world where Donald Trump is considered a viable presidential candidate, I dunno.

Love to the Larks,
May. 6th, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
Am thinking the ED ruse would work quite nicely for privately-funded (e.g. pharma-based) grants; for an NIH grant better to work in obesity or breastfeeding, mebbe? And of course, referring to "translational" research is always good. As is: "quality benchmark."

(Not dismissing the importance of all those things, mind you; it's just that they are the current health policy buzzwords, according to my recent observations. N=1.)
May. 6th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Add 'diabetes' to 'translational research' and you've hit the ultimate sexy buzzword gold. I wish I could say that I am not laying awake nights trying to reconfigure my extremely unsexy basic transcriptional mechanism to realistically include them, but I'd be lying. :-(
May. 6th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
All of this is trite of course, but I can't think of anything actually useful to say. Making me laugh when I'd otherwise be crying *is* useful, Lash. :-)

in a world where Donald Trump is considered a viable presidential candidate, I dunno. You think he's viable? I just think he gets so much press because the man is a walking joke, but that has the unfortunate consequence of bringing out the dunderheads who *do* take him seriously. If we had an actual, functional press instead of a bunch of bored jackals looking to fill air time, his alleged 'candidacy' would have died the mercifully swift death is deserves.
May. 6th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
No. I don't think he's viable, but a Trump/Palin ticket would appeal to some. I hope they go with it, frankly.

Maybe Miss M and her fellows will do better. The bar is low enough, anyway.
May. 11th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
I hope they go with it, frankly. As amusing as it would be, I doubt even the Repubs would be that stupid. Ye gods, it would be so nice to have some *rational* political discourse in this country between serious candidates. So far as I can tell there is only one grown-up in this race, and that's the POTUS. I fear for the republic when the main impulse the electorate seems to favor (whenever they can be bothered to get off of their lazy arses and actually go vote) is to vote with whatever has caught their 15 minute attention spans at election time based on the sleaziest ads.

Sorry. Didn't mean to rant at you (or imply that it was *you* who thought Trump a viable candidate rather than the carrion feeders who run our news organizations) - politics frustrates me no end, and I sometimes wish that I could be as unconcerned about it as the vast majority of our fellow citizens seem to be. Or figure out how to wake them up so that we don't actually end up completely losing our democracy to the oligarchs who have our politicians in their pockets. :-P
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )