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National Trial of Anonymising Research Funding Proposals

"It's a really exciting project that can have real impact on future research processes."
Isabelle Kingsley
Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador Research Associate

 

In the STEM research sector, the success rate of applications to Australia’s competitive grants programs is higher for men than women [1].  This trend is in-part linked to unconscious bias in grant allocation processes [2]. Removing identifying information, such as names and gender pronouns, can reduce gender, cultural and other biases [3, 4].   

We are pleased to announce that the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador’s national trial of anonymising grant proposals is well underway. The trial results will be compared to data from previous years to measure any differences.  The aim is to assess whether the anonymised review of proposals reduces unconscious bias in STEM grant programs.

We are working with several large Australian research organisations and funding bodies who have agreed to take part in the national trial. So far, Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL) has trialled removing the names and genders of the applicants during the grant review and allocation process. ANSTO will follow suit in the coming months.

This research project will provide important data on the effectiveness of anonymising proposals to improve equity. The results will provide a strong evidence base to inform government and the STEM sector to take action on more equitable processes in future.

We are continually updating our progress on our social channels and website. For direct updates on how this project is progressing, please enter your email address here.

References:

  1. Australian Research Council. Engagement and impact assessment pilot 2017 report. Commonwealth of Australia: Australian Research Council; 2017.
  2. Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change. In the eye of the beholder: Avoiding the merit trap. 2016.
  3. Wittman, H., Hendricks, M., Straus, S., Tannenbaum, C. Female grant applicants are equally successful when peer reviewers assess the science, but not when they assess the scientist. [bioRxiv preprint] 2018.
  4. Strogler, L. and Natarajan, P. Doling out Hubble time with dual-anonymous evaluation. Physics Today. 2019.to

Learn more about our publications

The Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador supports publications about women's participation in STEM in Australia. Click to find out more.

Learn more about our research projects

The National Evaluation Guide is a tool designed to help program owners evaluate their STEM gender equity programs. Click to find out more.