Addressing the gender gap in Canadian health research funding


  • Nadia Nazarali
  • Mariam Oliva Nieto
  • Brittney Wright


Much research has been published on the inequities faced by women in research. In Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the national investment agency for health research, providing a billion dollars annually to researchers through various grants and awards. In 2019, an article entitled “Are gender gaps due to evaluations of the applicant or the science? A natural experiment at a national funding agency” (Witteman, Hendricks, Straus & Tannenbaum) drew attention to the gender gaps present in CIHR funding. Through a comparison of three CIHR grant programs, the authors concluded that these gender gaps arose from grant reviewers evaluating women less favourably than men, rather than from differences in research proposal quality. Our project proposes that the CIHR modify their “Equity Strategy” to implement an “Equal Representation Policy” over ten years. Based on women’s representation within the general Canadian population, this will ensure that 50.9% of grant funding is given to women. Implementation of this proposal will involve reaching out to four key stakeholder groups. Once established, data collection, milestone setting, and compliance enforcement methods are suggested for evaluation and sustainability. Research is foundational to the practice standards, legislation, best-practice guidelines, and evidence-based practice that guide nursing and medical practice, all of which directly impact the health of Canadians. Until changes to society’s current gender biases and gender norms occur, we believe adopting a target-based policy to minimize gender biases in research funding is the most effective solution.




How to Cite

Nazarali, N., Oliva Nieto, M., & Wright, B. (2021). Addressing the gender gap in Canadian health research funding. Revue YOUR Review (York Online Undergraduate Research), 8. Retrieved from



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