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Does Gender Matter in Grant Peer Review? : An Empirical Investigation Using the Example of the Austrian Science Fund

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One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of the peer review process is gender bias. In this study we evaluated the grant peer review process (external reviewers’ ratings, and board of trustees’ final decision: approval or no approval for funding) at the Austrian Science Fund with respect to gender. The data consisted of 8,496 research proposals (census) across all disciplines from 1999 to 2009, which were rated on a scale from 1 to 100 (poor to excellent) by 18,357 external reviewers in 23,977 reviews. In line with the current state of research, we found that the final decision was not associated with applicant’s gender or with any correspondence between gender of applicants and reviewers. However, the decisions on the grant applications showed a robust female reviewer salience effect. The approval probability decreases (up to 10%), when there is parity or a majority of women in the group of reviewers. Our results confirm an overall gender null hypothesis for the peer review process of men’s and women’s grant applications in contrast to claims that women’s grants are systematically downrated.

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Most cited references 4

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The gender similarities hypothesis.

Janet Hyde (2005)
The differences model, which argues that males and females are vastly different psychologically, dominates the popular media. Here, the author advances a very different view, the gender similarities hypothesis, which holds that males and females are similar on most, but not all, psychological variables. Results from a review of 46 meta-analyses support the gender similarities hypothesis. Gender differences can vary substantially in magnitude at different ages and depend on the context in which measurement occurs. Overinflated claims of gender differences carry substantial costs in areas such as the workplace and relationships. Copyright (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved.
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Nepotism and sexism in peer-review.

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Scientists' perceptions of organizational justice and self-reported misbehaviors.

Policymakers concerned about maintaining the integrity of science have recently expanded their attention from a focus on misbehaving individuals to characteristics of the environments in which scientists work. Little empirical evidence exists about the role of organizational justice in promoting or hindering scientific integrity. Our findings indicate that when scientists believe they are being treated unfairly they are more likely to behave in ways that compromise the integrity of science. Perceived violations of distributive and procedural justice were positively associated with self-reports of misbehavior among scientists.

Author and article information

[1]Professorship for Social Psychology and Research on Higher Education, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
[2]Administrative Headquarters, Max Planck Society, Munich, Germany
[3]Evaluation Office, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Author notes
Rüdiger MutzProfessorship for Social Psychology and Research on Higher EducationETH ZurichMühlegasse 218001 ZurichSwitzerland Phone: +44 41 632-4918 Fax: +41 44 634-4379 E-mail:
Z Psychol
Z Psychol
Zeitschrift Fur Psychologie
Hogrefe Publishing
: 220
: 2
: 121-129
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing.

Distributed under the Hogrefe OpenMind License

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