An Evaluation of Gender and Geographical Representation in Study Section Members of the National Institute on Aging

Zachary Ernst, Merhawit Ghebrehiwet, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: On the subject of research, receiving funding is a vital step. The groups that dictate funding-distribution are worth examining. Evidence has shown gender inequalities regarding representation in research and receiving grant funding. We intended to assess gender and geographical disparities in the Basic Neuroscience of Aging Study Section of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a division of National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Methods: To begin our longitudinal analysis, we pilot-tested a Google Form for data collection. We determined the recorded data should include the following: meeting month and year, study section member name, degree, rank, institution, state, gender, and membership type (permanent, temporary, or Chair). We further divided the states into four geographical regions: West, Midwest, South, and Northeast. We extracted data from the publicly available NIH roster index and focused on the years 2011, 2016, and 2021. 2011 and 2016 included three meetings each year, while 2021 included one. For gender designation of male or female, we used and web-based profile searches. We eliminated duplicate members to ensure an individual was not overrepresented for the specified year.

Results: By reviewing one division of the NIH (the NIA), a small sample size of 93 participants were documented across the years 2011, 2016, and 2021. Additionally, with only one roster meeting for the year 2021, the total sample size was further reduced. Data from 2011 and 2016 for gender representation revealed 36% (13/23) and 47% (21/45) of reviewers being female, respectively. In 2021, females represented half (6/12) of the roster. After assessing geographical representation by region, the Midwest was represented the least out of the three studied years. The South and West were represented the most in 2011 with 12 members each. Lastly, the South continued to hold the most seats for 2016 and 2021.

Conclusion: Albeit small, data suggest that the NIH has improved gender representation over the previous ten years. However, geographical representation can improve in the Midwest region. It is vital that representation for both gender and geography be closely monitored to ensure research has equal opportunities for funding throughout the United States.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2022
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022 : Poster Presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 14 Feb 202218 Feb 2022


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • funding
  • inequalities
  • representation
  • disparities
  • longitudinal


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