The comments following my prior post are starting to drift into a bit of a misconception over what the NIH is and is not doing about gender disparity in the research they fund. Some of this is my fault for a lack of clarity and for expecting readers to view Isis' original post and particularly this comment from drdrA:
There is actually an entire office at the NIH, the Office of Research on Women's Health devoted to many subjects involving women, including ensuring that research conducted and paid for by NIH adequately addresses issues of women's health, and their inclusion in biomedical and behavioral studies. see:
The drift is captured in this comment:
The NIH, as a leader in science funding, has a responsibility to be fair in its allocation of resources.
Further confusion from this comment:
Stock critiques are the fault of the study section members, not the NIH. The NIH's fault is allowing the study section members to so dominate the awarding of research dollars that programmatic needs suffer.
and this one:
These RFAs [Ed-commenter meant "PA"s] aren't going to make any difference unless there is set-aside money allocated and a special review panel convened. Without set-aside money these study proposals will just keep on getting crushed by the same standing study sections that are crushing them right now.
The point I think is being overlooked in the stampede is that the NIH is doing quite a bit to address the situation via Program Announcements, Requests for Applications and standard programmatic decision making vis a vis picking up grants outside of the percentile order. This is a GoodThing and should be recognized. This process results in grants being proposed and approved that would otherwise not have been funded. Some of the investigators involved indeed later sustain a more comprehensive program which includes sex comparisons in their usual research. Some of these initiatives essentially launch new careers of investigators with an existing background in sex comparison research which is a huge leverage of a research program with a single grant.
My point is that we can do better. One of the things we could do better is to nudge the systematic structures around a little bit so that Program intervention is less necessary.
S. Rivlin observed:
I guess that playing the blame game on who's responsible for lack of studies on and funding for sex differences will solve nothing. It requires real actions by those who care about fairness and equality and should be approached as any other social issue
Although he was recommending a sustained political barrage, I take this as putting a fine point on one of my intentions with the post. Which was to encourage investigators to go ahead and risk adding that sex-comparison Aim now and again to their proposals. To get those of you on study section or hiring/promotions committees to just take that second thought when evaluating a proposal or applicant. In short to use the importance of sex-comparison research as a counter to StockCritique type failings in your analysis.