Several studies detail the under-representation of women in academic science, but there is no comprehensive analytical work on career progression within biomedical science alone. Previous research conducted by the Principal Investigators on science careers (Ginther and Kahn 2004, 2009) shows that women face very different challenges depending on their field of specialization, suggesting that researchers cannot safely apply the lessons learned from studies about "science" to the special case of biomedical science. New research is required to understand the special case of gender differences in biomedical careers. This study proposes to extend prior work by Ginther and Kahn on gender differences in academic science careers (Ginther and Kahn 2009) to the field of biomedical science. Gender differences in the likelihood of transitioning from PhD into academic jobs, the likelihood of tenure and promotion, and the financial rewards including both pay and grants will be examined. This research will make four major contributions to the study of gender differences in academic careers in biomedical science. First, the entire career trajectory will be measured, from doctorate to full professor, identifying those factors correlated with gender differences at every stage of career progression. Second, productivity measures will be examined including publications, citations and patents to explain the gender gap. Third, this work will evaluate the causal impact of NIH funding on gender differences in career outcomes. Fourth, the causal impact of changes in the labor market environment will be investigated, including the rise in foreign postdocs, the fall in assistant professorships, and the rise in commercial biomedical research, on women's and men's career progression and pay in biomedical academia. When completed, this proposed research will provide a complete picture of the causes and potential remedies for the gender gap in science. The expertise of the Principal Investigators in economics and econometrics provides the theoretical and empirical tools to identify the causal mechanisms underlying gender differences in biomedical careers. A new data set will be created that matches individuals in the SDR to productivity measures and uses state-of-the-art statistical techniques that utilize the changes in NIH funding across time and institutes as well as changes in the biomedical labor market environment as natural experiments to identify these causal mechanisms. Phase 1 of the study will enhance the quality of the research database, the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), by matching it with data on publications, citations and NIH grants. Phase 2 will study early career progression measured by the transition from doctorate to postdoc and from postdoc to tenure track academia. Phase 3 will be devoted to studying gender differences in the related outcomes of pay, promotion to tenure and full professor, and NIH grant awards.
To ensure that biomedical research is able to progress most quickly to solve the health problems of the US, it is essential that we use the intellectual resources of the country as efficiently as possible. If there are indeed barriers to women in research careers in this field, it lowers the research capability of the entire country. Moreover, a diverse biomedical faculty is better-equipped to address the challenges of ensuring the public health of our increasingly diverse society. This research examines the barriers women face in careers in biomedical research in universities and research centers. Once these barriers are understood as a result of this research, policies may be implemented to promote more efficient biomedical research reflecting more diverse viewpoints and interests.