Correspondence | Published:


Women's grants lost in inequality ocean

Nature volume 519, page 158 (12 March 2015) | Download Citation

Denmark last year launched its YDUN programme, an experimental one-year government research-funding scheme specifically for women. It was branded as sexist and provoked a political squall, so is unlikely to be repeated. Our analysis indicates that the 110 million krone (US$16 million) allocated to YDUN is roughly the same as the shortfall in Danish grant money won by women compared with men every year over the past 10 years.

The proportion of successful grant applications in 2009–13 to the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF), which also ran YDUN, was roughly comparable for male and female researchers according to their own analysis (14% and 11%, respectively; see (in Danish)).

However, our analysis of DFF data since the council's foundation in 2005 revealed that this 3% difference in success rates is significant: it corresponds to a male advantage of an average of 104 million krone per year, comparable to the entire YDUN funding allocation for women.

YDUN was a welcome attempt to widen Denmark's talent pool, but managed to level the playing field for only one year, and only for the DFF. Even then, the success rate for YDUN was only 3% (17 of 553 applicants). This level of competition is much higher than for DFF funding. Even though YDUN funding effectively made up the shortfall within the DFF for 2014, women still had to compete much harder to get it.

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  1. Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

    • Darach Watson
    •  & Jens Hjorth


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Correspondence to Darach Watson.

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