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Once You Get the First…

After getting their first US National Institutes of Health grant, female researchers are just about as likely to receive additional awards as male researchers, Nature News reports.

A team of NIH researchers led by Judith Greenberg used NIH funding support as a means of gauging researchers' career successes and teasing out differences in career longevity between men and women. The 'leaky pipeline' model has suggested, the researchers note, that women leave the sciences at higher rates than men at all career stages.

But Greenberg and her colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week that that might not be quite right. In their analysis of the funding history of 34,770 investigators, they found that, after receiving their first research project grant, men and women had almost the same additional funding rates.

"This is encouraging news for women," Greenberg tells Nature News. "They should realize that, sure, it is not easy in academia, but they are not going to have any more difficulty than men once they get their first grant."

However, she and her colleagues note in their paper that women made up less than a third of the RPG pool, were less likely to seek to renew a grant, and were less successful in getting a renewal.