Gender bias in grant renewals

In this study, researchers analyzed the written feedback and numeric scores grant reviewers gave to about 150 National Institutes of Health grants awarded to scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison between 2010 and 2014. The study used text-mining software to detect praise words, including standout words like “outstanding” and “exceptional,” and ability words, like “skilled.”

The researchers found no gender divide in the reviews given to initial grant applications — in other words, the grant that a scientist would request when they were just starting their own lab or a new research project. 

But grant renewals showed a departure. While female scientists were 13 percent more likely to receive standout praise on their renewal applications, their average scores were more than four points behind their male colleagues. Though these grants were all funded (the NIH doesn’t publicize information on unfunded grants) a four-point divide could have ruled out many other women’s grant applications. The study was published in the Journal of Academic Medicine.  

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