Though national data suggest that women researchers are less likely to obtain independent research funding than men, a study published in the Journal of Women's Health found that male and female researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are funded at nearly the same rate.
Rita Rastogi Kalyani, M.D., M.H.S.; Hsin-Chieh Yeh, Ph.D.; Jeanne Clarke, M.D., M.P.H.; Myron Weisfeldt, M.D.; Terry Choi; and Susan McDonald, M.D., all of Johns Hopkins, authored the study.
Kalyani points out that, in recent years, Johns Hopkins has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and fostered a collegial and encouraging research environment.
"The Department of Medicine has had several long-standing efforts to promote diversity and research success at Johns Hopkins," says Kalyani, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. "Diversity in the workplace has been integrated as a priority."
Young scientists and clinicians who are awarded early-career development grants, or K grants, by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expected to advance eventually and establish independent research careers. The next step toward that independent career is an NIH research project grant, known as an R01 grant.
The authors compared K grant awardees at Johns Hopkins against national trends.
A 2009 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that, nationwide, women were 21 percent less likely to receive independent research grants than men.
Between 1999 and 2008, 92 faculty members in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins received K grants -- 49 men and 43 women. Of those grantees, 34 would eventually receive R01 grants -- 16 men and 18 women.
"In comparison to national data that report sex differences in attainment of independent funding, we found no sex differences among K award recipients in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins," Kalyani says.
Women represented roughly one-third of the active physician workforce in the United States in 2013. Though that number has increased over time, women remain a minority in academic medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, in 2013-2014, women constituted 38 percent of full-time medical school faculty, but only 21 percent of full professors, 15 percent of department chairs and 16 percent of deans.
The authors point out that, while there remain significant barriers to research success for women, their study's results are encouraging. They add that further studies are needed to investigate the impact of specific diversity initiatives on research success at other institutions.