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Gender equity in health research funding

What do we know, what do we wish we knew, and where do we go from here?

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Research shows women continue to face systematic disadvantages in research funding competitions, publishing, hiring, and promotion. Zena Sharman considers what can be done to foster gender equity, including piloting unconscious bias training and developing a clear definition of what is meant by equity and how that informs strategic and operational work.

At the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research we pride ourselves on being a data-driven organisation that supports research that meets the highest scientific standards using our rigorous peer review process. To support this, we track all our competitions closely, systematically collecting and analysing information about each programme. But sometimes, our data surprise us.

This happened in the summer of 2017 when we announced our first Innovation to Commercialization (I2C) award recipients. We were proud to fund 11 excellent researchers working on products and technologies ranging from a liquid skin substitute for wound healing to an organ preservation solution for transplant services. These 11 excellent researchers also all happened to be men.

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