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New study suggests women may be getting less money to start labs

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John Timmer
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A small study of biomedical researchers in the Northeast found that men tended to get more startup money than women.The new study provides a more comprehensive look at the other half of the equation: grant funding of biomedical research, which is primarily provided by the National Institutes of Health.The NIH makes the results of its grant funding public, allowing the researchers (all from Northwestern University) to identify nearly 54,000 grants in which a researcher received their first NIH funding between 2006 and 2017. Research performance was also nicely balanced, with no significant differences between the genders in the rates they published papers or the frequency with which those papers were cited.But things don't look so good when you examine how much money came with those grants. And if you look at the grant that carries the most prestige and is generally used to support the running of a single lab (called an R01), the median female first-time grantee actually receives $16,000 more than the male equivalent.If you look at what's driving the gender disparity, it tends to come from specific types of funding. Another source is grants given out for the set up of facilities that provide a department- or university-wide resource for other scientists, like providing DNA synthesis or mass spectrometry.Given that, it's not clear that the large gender disparity seen here is actually getting in the way of people establishing stable labs.

As said here by John Timmer