Back in December we told you about how the National Institutes of Health had announced some new diversity-related measures because of a study led by KU economist Donna Ginther that showed black scientists were less likely than their white counterparts to receive grant funding from the NIH.
Now the journal Science, which published Ginther's original article, reports that a study by some other researchers questions some of its conclusions.
This new study shows the "evidence for racial bias is scant" at the NIH, its author told Science, and black and white researchers who've done about the same amount of work tend to receive about the same amount of funding.
This hardly throws Ginther's work out the window, though, as her study did not say the NIH was racially biased. It just said black researchers were receiving fewer grants. That's a different statement entirely.
Her original article wasn't able to pin down a reason for that. But when I talked to her in December, she told me some further work was beginning to suggest there's a lack of racial diversity all the way through the pipeline that produces medical researchers: in graduate-school programs, university faculties and academic journals.
She said it's possible the grant approval process is biased, perhaps because the people reviewing grants are more likely to award them to people they know. But of the new measures announced by the NIH, Ginther was focusing more on mentoring programs for college students and less experienced researchers, which could make the system more diverse from the ground up.
Because of that, Ginther told Science that this new study really just complements her research. She did quibble with some of the researchers' methods, though.
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