Male scientists received the overwhelming majority of research grants in engineering, health, and medicine over the past decade, according to research from the University of Technology in Sydney.
The gender imbalance in funding undermines women’s academic work because most recipients chose to work in male-only teams, the study says. This exclusion can have a lasting impact on women researchers.
For new scientists, joining a funded research team can be a great start to their careers. However, if men work mostly with other men, the barriers for women only grow.
Nicola Gaston, associate professor physics at the University of Auckland, told Radio New Zealand that the discrimination female scientists experience can be partly explained by unconscious biases and hidden hurdles women have to confront that are rarely faced by men.
“What people are doing is selecting other people to collaborate with in order to be competitive in attracting a grant. So, you’re not just seeing the biases of the individuals in terms of assessing the worth of the work of somebody else. What you’re seeing is them second-guessing how that person’s work will be assessed by somebody else,” Gaston said.
The University of Technology study looked at Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants from 2008 to 2017, and National Health and Medical Research Council programme grants from 2003 to 2018.