A Study of 1.3 Million Grant Applications Worldwide Finds a Substantial Gender Gap In Research Funding

Women researchers received substantially less funding in grant awards than men — an average of about $342,000 compared to men’s $659,000, according to a large meta-analysis of studies led by Karen Schmaling, a psychology professor at Washington State University, Vancouver.

Women were also less likely to receive second grants to continue their research. In first-time grant applications, proportional numbers of women and men scientists were approved for funding, but for re-applications, 9 percent fewer women who applied were approved than their male peers.

Dr. Schmaling and co-author Stephen Gallo of the American Institute of Biological Sciences analyzed data from 55 studies on grant awards published between 2005 and 2020. This represents data on more than 1.3 million applications worldwide although the majority were in the U.S. and Europe. The analysis also found that Europe was more friendly to women scientists, granting about 6 percent more awards to women researchers than funding agencies did in the U.S.

“If we want true change, especially in the U.S., we need to think about being more encouraging and giving opportunities to young women scientists early in their career — and before, when they are students.”

Dr. Schmaling joined the faculty at Washington State University in 2010 after teaching at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Texas at El Paso. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon, where she majored in psychology. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Washington.

The full study, “Gender Differences in Peer-Reviewed Grant Applications, Awards, and Amounts: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” was published on the website of the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/StudySTEM Fields


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