Large gender imbalance in funding for UK cancer research


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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Female cancer researchers consistently receive less funding that their male counterparts, say the authors of a study published in BMJ Open.

The study used data from several sources on public and philanthropic cancer research funding bodies including the Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Wellcome Trust, European Commission and medical research charities, awarded to UK institutions between 2000 and 2013.

Analysis showed that, of the studies included, 69 per cent of grants and 78 per cent of total funding available were awarded to male primary investigators (PIs). Male PIs received 2,890 grants, amounting to £1.82 billion. Female PIs, on the other hand, received 1,296 grants totalling just 512 million.

Grants to male primary investigators were 1.3 times greater than those awarded to female counterparts, regardless of cancer site, cancer type, stage of research, or funder. For prostate cancer research projects, male PIs received, on average, 3.5-times more funding than female researchers. In cervical cancer research, men received 6.6-times the average funding of women PIs, while in ovarian cancer research, there was a 5.7-fold difference between men and women in average funding.

Commenting on the evidence, the authors said: " We would strongly urge policy-makers, funders and the academic and scientific community to investigate the factors leading to our observed differences and seek to ensure that women are appropriately supported in scientific endeavour."