In a recent post that I was motivated to write after an article appeared in Science regarding the proportion of women in all ranks from training period on up to senior faculty, and the rates of NIH funding for women versus men… commenter JC kindly provided a link to a report of an NSF sponsored study done by the Rand Science and Technology Policy Institute (covers years 2001-2003, I couldn’t find more recent ##s after an (admittedly) cursory look)- entitled ‘Gender Differences in Major Federal External Grant Programs’ authored by Hosek et al. in 2005. Buried under that review article that I was writing, I didn’t actually get a chance to look at anything beyond table 3.4 in that report from just last night. I’ll just quote directly from the ‘Key Findings’ section:
With two important exceptions, we did not find gender differences in federal grant funding outcomes in this study. At NSF and USDA, over a recent three year period (2001–2003), there were no differences in the amount of funding requested or awarded. We found the same result when we looked at surveys of scientists, social scientists, and engineers. In one of the surveys (the 1999 NSOPF), there were differences in tabulations of the raw survey results, but those differences disappeared when we adjusted for other characteristics, including the researcher’s discipline, institution, experience, and past research
The major exception was at NIH, where female applicants in 2001–2003 received on average only 63 percent of the funding that male applicants received. One third of this gender gap is explained by the under representation of women among top 1 percent award winners. If we eliminate the very large awards and also control for other characteristics—age, academic degree, institution, grant type, institute, and year—the difference narrows again. Nevertheless, the gender gap is still 17 percent, which means that women still receive only 83 percent of what men receive when it comes to grant funding. (bold is mine)
Now, the next paragraph contains a list of qualifiers on things the authors couldn’t control for in the NIH part of this study- because certain data like the NIH data is for PIs only (no co-PI), no info about academic discipline, no research rankings for the applicant’s university, AND the NIH data don’t include the amount of funding that the applicant requested. This last point means that the authors can’t determine whether the lower amount awarded to women is a result of smaller requests, or agency determinations on how much to award… or both.
And you might think – what’s the big deal… all things are equal over at NSF, and USDA- so what if the scale is a little tilted over at the NIH. For those of you who are having this thought consider that the basic and applied research budget breakdown (for 2001 the total basic/applied research expenditures were $43 Billion) by agency went something like this (in 2001):
- NSF $3.05 Billion
- USDA $ 1.81 Billion
- DHHS (Dept. of Health and Human Services), specifically NIH $20.67 Billion
These three agencies were responsible for 60% of all research funding, and for 80% of all extramural grants in the same year. Oh and one more thing- only 1% of the USDA budget is spent on extramural research, while 68% and 72% of the budgets of NSF and NIH respectively are spent on extramural research.
The operative data for NIH data can be found in table 3.4, which I will kindly reproduce for you… right here:
Maybe this is old news to y’all. But… if not, as my dad would say- what do you think about them apples? Still think all things are equal for the girls??
(And with this I’ll remind you that Title IX prohibits discrimination against women in ANY U.S. educational activity, including the distribution of federal research $$.)