Trends in Gender and Geographic Representation in a National Institutes of Health Study Section

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: It is widely known that certain groups have been largely underrepresented in the scientific and medical community, including women and professionals from certain geographic regions. In her article “Does Gender Bias Still Affect Women in Science?” Roper states, “Recent studies show that gender bias affects student grading, professional hiring, mentoring, tenure, promotion, respect, grant proposal success, and pay.” In order to better understand if gender and geographic bias play a role in the distribution of funds from the National Institutes of Health, our team examined the composition of the funding distribution committee for Dental and Craniofacial Research (DSR). We examined the gender and geographic makeup of these committees over a period of 10 years to determine whether improvements had been made. The results of this study have important indications about the representation of certain minorities in positions of power.

Methods: Our team began by locating the roster information from study section DSR of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research committee. Using a pilot-tested Google form to collect data, we entered our study section, meeting year and month, member’s name, degree held, academic rank, membership type, institution, state, and gender into the form. This was collected from the rosters of meetings held in February, June, and October of the years 2011, 2016, and 2021. When entering each gender, we went to the institution’s website to locate each member or used to verify the gender and only accepted results with a 0.6 probability or greater. After all data collection took place, each year’s data was compiled into one spreadsheet to be analyzed. Starting with 2011, any member’s name that was duplicated because of attending multiple meetings was deleted so only one name appeared for that person. We then determined the number of males and females in attendance from that year along with the total number of members representing each state. The same process was done for years 2016 and 2021.

Results: Women were initially underrepresented in this study section with 46 (65%) men and 25 (35%) women in 2011. There were 46 (60%) men and 31 (40%) women in 2016. In 2021, there were 56 (55%) men and 47 (46%) women. This demonstrates a more equal balance between men and women in the study section. Geographically, there were 15 (22%) representatives from the Northeast, 18 (26%) from the Midwest, and 19 (28%) from the South in 2011. In 2021, the South was most represented with 32 (33%) of members, followed by 26 (27%) from the Northeast, 24 (25%) from the Midwest, and 14 (15%) from the West. This trend indicates a slight shift from the West to the South and Northeast.

Conclusions: Our results suggest the NIH has improved in selecting women as section members. However, geographical locations appear less evenly distributed over time.
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


  • NIH
  • representation
  • gender
  • regional


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