Gender Differences in Successful NIH Grant Funding in Otolaryngology

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To evaluate gender differences in NIH funding among faculty in otolaryngology departments and discuss potential reasons for these differences.

Study Design and Setting

Analysis of NIH funding data available on the online NIH RePORTER system.


Fiscal year 2011 and 2012 NIH funding awards to principal investigators (PIs) in otolaryngology departments were obtained and used to examine faculty listings from otolaryngology departments for academic rank and gender. The Scopus database was used to determine publication range of these faculty members.


Individual mean NIH awards to men ($362,946 ± $21,247 standard error of mean) were higher than those to women ($287,188 ± $38,029). Male PIs were found to have higher mean NIH funding totals (aggregating grants for PIs with multiple awards) than female PIs ($498,593 vs $359,276). Upon organization by academic rank and years active, men had significantly higher funding levels at both the level of assistant professor and at 10 to 20 years of experience. Of all NIH grants awarded, men had a higher percentage of the more prestigious R-series grants (76.2%) than did women (63.4%).


Male faculty members have higher NIH funding levels than their female colleagues, a disparity that exists separate from career longevity, as it is true both at the rank of assistant professor and for those with 10 to 20 years of research experience. The larger proportion of R-series NIH grants awarded to male faculty may contribute to this finding. This discrepancy in percentage and dollars of funding exists despite the increasing percentages of women in higher ranks.

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