Purpose: To evaluate whether there were differences in acquisition of research grant support between male and female faculty at eight Harvard medical School-affiliated institutions.
Methods: Data were obtained from the participating institutions on all research grant applications submitted by full-time faculty from 2001 though 2003. Data were analyzed by gender and faculty rank of applicant, source of support (federal and nonfederal), funding outcome, amount of funding requested, and amount of funding awarded.
Results: Data on 6319 grant applications submitted by 2840 faculty applicants were analyzed. Women represented 29% of investigators and submitted 26% of all grant requests. There were significant gender differences in the mean number of submissions per applicant (women 2.3, men 2.7), success rate (women 41%, men 45%), number of years requested (women 3.1, men 3.4), median annual amount requested (women $115,325, men $150,000), mean number of years awarded (women 2.9, men 3.2), and median annual amount awarded (women $98,094, men $125,000). After controlling for academic rank, grant success rates were not significantly different between women and men, although submission rates by women were significantly lower at the lowest faculty rank. Although there was no difference in the proportion of money awarded to money requested, women were awarded significantly less money than men at the ranks of instructor and associate professor. More men than women applied to the National Institutes of health, which awarded higher dollar amounts than other funding sources.
Conclusions: Gender disparity in grant funding is largely explained by gender disparities in academic rank. Controlling for rank, women and men were equally successful in acquiring grants. However, gender differences in rant application behavior at lower academic ranks also contribute to gender disparity in grant funding for medical science.