225145 A linguistic analysis of NIH grant reviews: Does the sex of the principal investigator make a difference?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anna Kaatz, MA, MPH , Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI
Katherine Muratore , Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI
Kristin Cox , Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI
Although women and men are near parity at early career levels in many health and scientific research fields, women are underrepresented in senior ranks leaving unrealized the full potential of their vital contributions. One major determinant of scientific success is the ability to obtain research funding through competitive review processes. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest funding source for biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research primarily through its R01 grant mechanism. The success rate for women physicians and scientists who submit R01 proposals to the NIH is significantly less than their male counterparts, yet little is known about how the review process might differentially advantage men (Ley and Hamilton, Science 322:1472-4, 2008). Studies by Wenneras and Wold (Nature 387:341-3, 1997), Bornmann et al. (JInformetrics 1(3):226-38, 2007) and Marsh et al. (AmPsychologist 63(3):160-8, 2008) all provide strong evidence that the disadvantage women experience in award outcomes is often due to differences in the evaluation of female and male candidates by peer-reviewers. To investigate the role peer-review may have in differentially advantaging applicants to NIH due to gender, we are analyzing words and descriptors from over 300 NIH grant reviews for R01 awards to a Research I university for the 2008-2009 funding cycle. In our presentation we will share findings regarding the effect of applicant gender on application scores and on the words and descriptors used by NIH peer-reviewers to critique applications. Study results will be of broad interest both to investigators, and funding agencies.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify at least two barriers for women's career advancement in academia and public health. 2. Describe the language peer-reviewers at NIH use to evaluate male and female grant applicants.

Keywords: Women's Health, Career Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a public health professional with a research and teaching concentration in women's health. I am also working on a PhD in Women's Health Research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.