Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has been collecting and analysing data on application submission and success rates by gender since 2011. These data have enabled us to examine success rates and funding amounts across SFI’s portfolio of grants and to expose any unintended biases which may exist between the genders (binary) in the review process.
SFI’s Gender Dashboard was published for the first time on the SFI website in 2019. In support of SFI’s commitment to transparency in its review processes, SFI has recently undertaken an update of the Gender Dashboard to enable the inclusion of an expanded set of gender disaggregated data across all SFI funding programmes between 2011 to 2021.
Highlights from the SFI Gender Dashboard analysis
- The overall percentage of women applicants to SFI funding calls has increased from 17% to 43%, while the percentage of grants awarded to women has increased from 20% to 40% in the same period (between 2011 to 2021).
- The percentage of grants awarded to women was 34% and 40% in 2020 and 2021 respectively (reflecting data up to the end of Q3 2021).
- Gender initiatives introduced into programme calls such as the SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant, SFI Frontiers for the Future and SFI-IRC Pathway programmes, have significantly contributed to the increase in the representation of women as award holders in SFI’s portfolio of grants.
- The SFI Frontiers for the Future programme was first run in 2019 with 35% of the applicants being women and 45% of grants awarded to women. In 2020, women applicants increased to 40%, with 44% of grants eventually awarded to women.
- The application success rates for women in the SFI Frontiers for the Future Awards 2020 call was 86%. This application success rate reflects the percentage of the number of women awarded a grant against the total number of women that applied for funding.
- The SFI-IRC Pathway programme introduced in 2021, has also proven to be a successful call for women applicants, with 52% of applicants being women and 58% of grants being awarded to women.
For many years, Science Foundation Ireland has been at the forefront in developing initiatives to remove and mitigate any existing or perceived factors that may limit the participation of women in STEM careers. In 2016, SFI consolidated its position with the launch of its Gender Strategy providing a comprehensive framework which enabled a move towards streamlining gender initiatives across all its funding programmes, with the overarching aim of redressing gender imbalance (binary) amongst award holders.
SFI is currently undertaking a review of its Gender Strategy, with a key objective of understanding what worked and where gaps remain. This output will be married with a comprehensive review of best practice in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and the findings of an extensive consultation with many individuals/groups, and consolidated in SFI’s (upcoming) EDI Strategy and its associated implementation plan.