National Institute on Aging

Research Shows Racial Disparities in Funding Rates by the National Science Foundation

A new study led by Christine Yifeng Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, finds that between 1996 and 2019, White principal investigators were more likely to receive grant funding from the National Science Foundation than their non-White colleagues.

The research found that during the years analyzed between 22 percent and 34 percent of all proposals received funding. But they discovered that the funding rate for White scientists was 8 percent above the average and the funding rate for Black researchers was 8 percent below the average. The funding rate for Asian scientists was 21 percent below the average.

The authors believe that the racial disparities in funding “have cascading impacts that perpetuate a cumulative advantage to White [principal investigators] across all of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

The author state that “many take progress for granted and believe that issues of discrimination, bias, and inequality will subside naturally with time. Yet progress towards an equitable future is not inevitable — it requires intentionality, vigilance, and a commitment to concrete and sustained action. To manifest change, NSF must lead in eliminating racial funding disparities in science.”

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was posted on the Center for Open Science preprint site. It may be accessed here.

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