Women's participation in NSF Ocean Sciences awards

Created by Ivan Lima on Tue Mar 16 2021 20:37:23 -0400

In this notebook we examine women's representation in NSF Ocean Sciences awards in the period 1987-2019. We measure women's participation as the percentage of women PIs and co-PIs in the awards. These two metrics provide complementary information on the gender composition of the awards and we track how they vary across:

  1. Time
  2. The 10 largest NSF-OCE programs (in number of awards)
  3. Indentified research topics (using topic modeling)
  4. Different award types

We also look at the relative frequency of the different categories (e.g. programs, topics and award types) within each gender (PIs). The relative frequency of different NSF-OCE programs, research topics and award types within a given gender shows how that gender distributes hers/his awards and therefore provides information on the gender's makeup in terms of scientific disciplines and type of research and activity. Specifically, we look at the ratio between the percentage of awards allocated by women PIs and men PIs to each category (program, topic and award type). A ratio greater than one means that women PIs apportion a higher proportion of their awards to that category than men do, and therefore likely have a higher percentage of PIs in that category than men. Conversely, a ratio smaller than one means that men have a higher proportion of PIs in that category than women.

This work was done in collaboration with Jennie Rheuban and is published in Lima, I.D., and J.E. Rheuban. 2021. Gender differences in NSF ocean sciences awards. Oceanography 34(4). For more information and analyses see our GitHub repository.

The figure below shows the annual mean percentages of women PIs and co-PIs in NSF-OCE awards, and in the academic workforce for earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences.

The difference between the temporal trends (slopes) in the percentages of women PIs and co-PIs is not statistically significant. Overall, women’s participation in NSF-OCE awards has been growing at a rate of approximately 0.64% per year, and the similarity between the temporal trends in the NSF-OCE awards and the academic workforce suggests that the observed upward trend in women representation in NSF-OCE awards is a reflection of the increasing participation of women in the ocean sciences academic workforce and that there is no gender bias in NSF funding.