As the Australian Government's lead agency for funding health and medical research, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), is committed to achieving gender equity in its grant program.

Significant progress has been made towards gender equity across NHMRC's grant program in the last 10 years. However, NHMRC remains concerned about the persistent lower representation of women as applicants and grant holders in certain grant schemes. NHMRC funding outcomes are affected by the systemic disadvantage experienced by women in the workforce. The experience of non-binary researchers must be recognised in an inclusive gender equity strategy.

Information on actions NHMRC is undertaking to achieve gender equity is outlined in the NHMRC Gender Equity Strategy.

What does the data show?

An analysis of NHMRC's data from 2013 to 2017 shows that women are under-represented in senior and leadership positions in NHMRC grant schemes. This trend continues to be reflected in the current grant program, particularly in the Investigator Grants scheme.

Published on our website is the data on the outcomes of funding rounds. This includes the number of applications and funded rates by gender, from 2013 to the most recent rounds under the current grant program. The Factsheets provide a quick reference point to key statistics. The Summary spreadsheets list the details of grants awarded including the lead investigator's name and administering institution.

In addition, NHMRC has provided the Australian Women in STEM Ambassador information on the outcome of funding rounds from 2000 to 2020 for NHMRC's Project Grant and Ideas Grant schemes, including information on the level of applications and outcomes by gender to assist their work on gender equity in STEM – see Download section (below).

What are we doing?

Activity Action Year when action was initiated
Strategy and advice Released Discussion Paper: Options to reach gender equity in the Investigator Grant scheme 2022
Released CEO Communique – Gender disparities in NHMRC's Investigator Grant Scheme and held webinars with the research sector. 2022
Released NHMRC's Gender Equality Strategy 2018–2021 2018
Published a Summary of the 2019–2020 Action Plan  2019
Established NHMRC's Women in Health Science Committee 2012
Continuing to seek advice from NHMRC's Council and Principal Committees Ongoing
Peer review Piloted the consideration of career context and life circumstances of all applicants when assessing track record, relative to opportunity, in the Investigator Grant scheme. 2021
Revised the Relative to Opportunity Policy 2021
Encouraged the use of gender-neutral language in grant applications and peer review discussions 2020
Piloted completion of an implicit association test for gender and science for peer reviewers before rollout to all schemes 2020
Introduced actions in the Strategy to further improve the representation of women on peer review panels 2018
Facilitating participation of people with carer responsibilities in peer review panels by using videoconferencing 2015
Introduced NHMRC's career disruption and relative to opportunity policy 2012
Grant opportunities Adjusted the timing of grant rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic 2020
Altering timing of grant rounds to avoid school holidays 2019
Introduced part-time opportunities across all new grant program schemes 2019
Structural funding Using structural priority funding to support additional grants with female Chief Investigators (CIAs) 2017
Recognition Introduced the Elizabeth Blackburn Grant Awards for top-ranked women 2013
Showcasing female researchers on website and in social media Ongoing
Administering Institutions Established gender equality policy requirements for Administering Institutions (AIs) 2015 (updated in 2019)
Reviewed how AIs are meeting the gender equality policy requirements 2015 and 2018
Published better practice examples for how AIs are meeting the gender equality policy requirements 2020

Last updated June 2022

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