Over the past few years, Research Councils UK (RCUK) have begun to systematically collect and report diversity data – and the findings regarding gender differences in grant application and success rates are worrying. The latest report can be found here: Research Councils Diversity Data (April 2016).
RCUK have stated that they are committed to ensuring that the best potential researchers from a diverse population are attracted to research careers. The report on diversity data includes information on gender, age, disability status and ethnicity and the data is generated from grant and fellowship applications submitted to each of the research councils. This report makes interesting reading and I wish this data was given as much publicity in the national media as some of the more positive ‘new medical cure for…’ stories that research councils and journalists make sure to highlight.
As a female academic, I was shocked by the scale of the difference between female and male submissions to research councils and the results are even more alarming when viewing the gender of PIs who are actually awarded grants. Some of the differences may be attributed to the smaller number of women PIs employed in academia and encouragingly the most recent data from 2014/15 shows evidence from at least some councils that the gap is closing between the percentages of awards made to women versus men.