Jennifer Reineke Pohlhaus, PhD; Hong Jiang, PhD; Jennifer Sutton, MS
Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
Pohlhaus JR, Jiang H, Sutton J. Sex Differences in Career Development Awardees' Subsequent Grant Attainment. Ann Intern Med. 2010;152:616-617. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-9-201005040-00019
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2010;152(9):616-617.
TO THE EDITOR:
Jagsi and colleagues (1) found a sex disparity in the achievement of National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 awards by past career development (that is, K) awardees and raised concerns about the progression of women in research careers. Several of their conclusions deserve additional scrutiny and discussion.
Of greatest importance, as the authors acknowledged, they did not have information about application rates. Analyses by the NIH indicate that the rates at which K awardees subsequently apply for research grants are higher for men than for women. Among K08 recipients from 1995 to 1998, for example, 74% of men and 67% of women applied for an R01 award within 10 years (P = 0.015). Those disparities also were evident in the broader category of research project grants, in which 80% of male and 74% of female K08 recipients applied within 10 years (P = 0.029). However, NIH data show that when female K08 awardees apply for new R01 awards, they are equally or more successful than their male peers who hold the same types of degrees (specifically, we compared male and female MDs, including those with MD/PhDs). In addition, in the total pool of applicants for type 1 R01s, success rates for men and women are equivalent (2). These data suggest that sex disparities in receiving NIH awards are more attributable to differences in application rates than differences in success.
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