New NHMRC success rate could be worse

The National Health and Medical Research Council announces Ideas Grants

The programme is the council’s second largest scheme, funding research across health and medical disciplines. Just not much of it, with 248 (9.9 per cent) of applications successful in yesterday’s announcement.

This looks marginally better than last year’s 9.8 per cent – it isn’t.  283 of 2889 applicants were successful last year, compared to 248 of 2503 this.

However, this isn’t the overall issue the NHMRC is most anxious to address. There is a push in the medical research community for the council to do something about the gender imbalance in grants across career stages and the NHMRC now highlights the most positive stats it has in any announcement on success rates for women.

As it did yesterday, pointing out that the difference in funded rates between men and women chief investigators in the new Ideas round is 0.1 per cent.

Plus, the council, “has identified research led by women as an area of structural priority and has funded an additional five applications led by female CIAs using structural priority funding.”

Problem is that senior research is still mainly a bloke’s business, with 1407 men leading teams, compared to 1071 women. While the funding  per centage rate is level, the proportion of grants awarded is 57 per cent men and 43 per cent (rounded) women.