Women still face discrimination, researchprobe concludes

December 21, 2000

Women are as successful as men in getting the research funding they apply for but they are less likely to apply for it, according to a report released this week, writes Caroline Davis.

Who Applies For Research Funding? was commissioned by the six research councils together with the Wellcome Trust. Its aim was to discover why men apply for more research grants than women and to find what barriers lay in the application process.

More than 3,000 staff from 44 institutions replied to the survey. It found that women were less likely than men to be eligible to apply for grants (except from the Economic and Social Research Council).

Reasons why women apply for fewer grants include:

  • Staff at senior levels applied for more grants, but women hold just one fifth of senior posts
  • Full-time academics are more likely than part-timers to apply for grants and women are more than twice as likely as men to work part time
  • Those with tenure apply for more grants - more women than men have fixed-term contracts
  • Women are less likely than men to be involved in high-profile research or to have a high publication record
  • Women receive less institutional support
  • Career breaks have a considerable impact on grant applications
  • Fewer women with dependent children apply for grants than men in the same situation "There is still evidence of gender discrimination, albeit indirect," said the Wellcome Trust's head of policy, Claire Matterson.

The report recommends a review of funding policies by the research councils and the trust, and urges universities to rethink their employment practices.

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