A University of Michigan Health System study has found that female researchers are less likely to receive major federal funding than their male counterparts. Authors looked at 2,783 researchers who received early career awards called K08 or K23, which are doled out over three to five years and include a mentoring aspect for young researchers. After five years only 25 percent of men and 19 percent of women achieved R01, a federal grant that is an important step for career researchers. And after 10 years, only 36 percent of women received R01 grants, as opposed to 46 percent of men.
The study authors were concerned not just with the disparity between grants to men and women, but also the overall low levels of R01 achievement. The K08 and K23 grants are designed to support and nurture the brightest researchers. The fact that over a 10 year period many candidates are not reaching R01 is troubling to the study authors. "It's concerning that the whole group is not succeeding at a higher rate, and it is especially concerning that the women are doing even worse than the men," says lead study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., assistant professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School.
"Our findings suggest dysfunction in the pipeline of physician-scientists," Jagsi adds. "This is not an easy career path for anyone, and it may be particularly hard for women. We need to figure out how to make this a more tenable career path, and right now both men and women seem to need additional support."
- here's the release