Gender Bias in Grant Making

In the June 4 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Alex Daniels reports on efforts by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to find out whether their own team’s evaluation of grant applications was colored by gender bias. To answer that question, researchers performed a review of 6,794 proposals from the foundation’s Global Challenges (2008 to 2017). Their finding: Women applicants were 15 percent less likely than men to receive a “silver” rating and 20 percent less likely to receive a “gold” rating from the reviewers. A big reason was that the men tended to use “broad” words to describe the sweep of their work, while women researchers stuck close to “topic-specific” vocabulary to describe how their work would advance causes like agriculture, nutrition, and disease research. I so appreciate the Gates’ Foundation’s reflective efforts to address gender bias internally as well as globally.