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Look at the Numbers

Researchers need to examine data on gender and racial diversity in the sciences just as they would any other dataset, writes Pennsylvania State University's Kathleen Grogan at Nature Ecology & Evolution.

"This same data-driven approach that guides our research should be applied to maximize the innovation and productivity of our scientific and academic community," she says. "What data we have are stark."

In her commentary, Grogan sifts through the data that has been collected. Overall, women are about 10 to 20 percent less likely than their male counterparts to become PIs, she says. While women similar success rates, women are less likely to apply for National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation grants. This, she says, this leads women to have fewer concurrent grants and, on average, about $30,000 less in funding than men each year. Even if successful, Grogan points out that women are less likely to speak at colloquia and be recognized with awards.

Grogan adds that much of the impetus to improve the so-called "leaky pipeline" has been placed on female researchers rather than the scientific community at large. She writes that there are little things that researchers — male and female — can do to bolster the representation of women and minorities in the science. Grogan says, for instance, researchers can recommend more women and minorities to review their manuscripts, to receive prizes, and work to identify their own biases.