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.
Since 2012, significant progress had been made towards gender equity across NHMRC's grant program. However, NHMRC remained concerned about the persistent lower representation of women as applicants and grant holders in certain grant schemes.
In October 2022, following national consultation process, NHMRC announced it would introduce new special measures under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to address systemic disadvantage faced by female and non-binary applicants to its Investigator Grant scheme.
Information on all the actions NHMRC is undertaking to achieve gender equity is outlined in the table below. This occurs under the framework established by the NHMRC Gender Equity Strategy 2022–2025.
Actions taken towards gender equity
|Year when action was initiated
|Strategy and advice
|Commenced consultation process on drafting the NHMRC-MRFF Statement on Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation in health and medical research
|Released Consultation report: Options to reach gender equity in the Investigator Grant scheme
|Conducted national consultation process on Options to reach gender equity in the Investigator Grant scheme, including several webinars
|Released Discussion Paper: Options to reach gender equity in the Investigator Grant scheme
|Released CEO Communique – Gender disparities in NHMRC's Investigator Grant Scheme and held webinars with the research sector.
|Released NHMRC Gender Equity Strategy 2022–2025
|Provided the Australian Women in STEM Ambassador information on the outcome of funding rounds from 2000 to 2020 (see Downloads section, below).
|Released NHMRC's Gender Equality Strategy 2018–2021
|Established NHMRC's Women in Health Science Committee
|2012 to ongoing
|Continuing to seek advice from NHMRC's Council and Principal Committees
|Introduced the consideration of career context and life circumstances of all applicants when assessing track record, relative to opportunity, in the Investigator Grant scheme.
|Revised the Relative to Opportunity Policy
|Encouraged the use of gender-neutral language in grant applications and peer review discussions
|Piloted completion of an implicit association test for gender and science for peer reviewers
|Introduced actions to improve the representation of women on peer review panels
|Facilitating participation of people with carer responsibilities in peer review panels by using videoconferencing
|Introduced NHMRC's career disruption and relative to opportunity policy
|Adjusted the timing of grant rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic
|Altering timing of grant rounds to avoid school holidays
|Introduced part-time opportunities across all new grant program schemes
|Introduced reporting of grant outcomes by gender
|Published better practice examples for how AIs are meeting the gender equality policy requirements
|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
|Structural priority funding
|Using structural priority funding to support additional grants with female Chief Investigator As (CIAs)
|2017 to ongoing
|Introduced the Elizabeth Blackburn Grant Awards for top-ranked women
|Showcasing female researchers on website and in social media
Page last updated March 2023