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Women scientists receive $41,000 less in funding than men, study shows

Published on 06/03/19 at 10:39am

Women scientists receive $41,000 less in federal funding than men, according to a study of nearly 54,000 grants to first time principal investigators.

First-time principal investigators who are women received considerably less than their male counterparts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study from Northwestern Medicine and the Kellogg School of Management, says.

“If women are receiving less grant support from the very beginning of their career, they are less likely to succeed,” said co-corresponding author Teresa Woodruff, the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Women's Health Research Institute. “This shows women are disadvantaged from the very first NIH grant they submit relative to their male counterparts. This represents an early stumbling block of $41,000.”

“With less federal funding, women can't recruit the same number of grad students to work on their research or buy the same amount of equipment as their male counterparts,” Woodruff said. “A funding disadvantage in the formative years of a women scientist's career can be especially handicapping because research shows that it is likely to snowball over time.”

The study showed that men and women had almost indistinguishable records prior to receiving their first NIH grant, having published the same number of articles and having received the same number of citations.

“If you don't have the right kind of grant from NIH, you are less likely to be promoted,” said co-corresponding author Brian Uzzi, professor of management and organizations at Kellogg. “The prestigiousness of a grant award are the things that make or break someone's career.”

Louis Goss

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