Women Researchers Lag Behind Men in Grant Awards

Study finds 36.2 percent of women researchers earn awards versus 45.6 percent of men
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Female physicians with a proven interest in research are less likely to receive prestigious research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) than are male physicians, according to a study in the Dec. 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Reshma Jagsi, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified the sex of 2,784 recipients of the NIH career development awards (K08 and K23 grant awards) from 1997 to 2003, then tracked the group to determine how many went on to earn NIH R01 grant awards for research. The researchers calculated R01 award rates, and sex differences were assessed.

The researchers found that 31.4 percent of K08 awards and 43.7 percent of the K23 awards went to women. After five years, 22.7 percent of K08 and K23 awardees went on to receive R01 grants overall, 18.8 percent among women, and 24.8 percent among men. After 10 years, 42.5 percent of K08 and K23 awardees received R01 grants, 36.2 percent among women, and 45.6 percent among men. After controlling for K award type, institution, year of award, funding institute, and specialty, sex remained an independent predictor of R01 award.

"Success of career development award recipients, who have a demonstrated aptitude and commitment to research and in whom considerable societal resources have been invested, is critical evidence of whether the physician-scientist pipeline is functioning adequately. Our finding of sex disparities in the advancement of this highly selected group is particularly concerning," the authors write.

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