ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: More Evidence of Bias in Government Research Funding Agencies

In a previous Weekly Roundup, we highlighted a meta-analysis of funding by the National Science Foundation over a 10-year period.  To review, in 2019, NSF funded 31.3% of proposals from White scientists, but only 22.4% for Asian scientists; the overall funding rate was 27.4%.  This translates into a single year award surplus of 798 grants for Whites and a single-year award deficit of 432 awards below the average for Asian-identifying PIs.  Over a 10-year period, the award deficit is 175 for Hispanic/Latinx and a 417 award deficit for Black/African Americans.   

In addition, related trends have been found in other agencies.  An article in Science Magazine noted that racial disparities among NIH grant recipients was reported in 2011, and in 2016, data revealed a gap of up to 13 percentage points in success rates between White and Black scientists. A gender report to Congress, that also included DOE and DOD, illustrated men were favored to receive funding.  According to Science Magazine, the former NIH Director Francis Collins apologized in 2021 to “individuals in the biomedical research enterprise who have endured disadvantages due to structural racism.” An NSF spokesperson says although the agency is proud of its array of programs designed to address equity and inclusion, “there is still much [work] to do.”

Receiving funding (or not) can have serious career implications, particularly if there is a belief by decision makers that funding allocations by government agencies are only merit-based. At the institutional level, those who make decisions about the promotion of faculty and reward allocations such as salary increases need to recognize that proposal funding has not been solely based on merits of the proposed idea.     

Today’s feature was shared with us by the ADVANCE Advocate Team.  If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog. To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at or visit our website:

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