Web

Black scientists far less likely to receive funding than white scientists, study finds

black-scientist

A black scientist that applies for a federal research grant with the National Institute of Health (NIH) is notably less likely to receive funding than a white one, according to a study published in the journal Science [pdf], which was sponsored by NIH.

The NIH revealed that for ever 100 funding applications it considered for approval, 29 of the grants were awarded to white scientists. That compared with 16 that went to black scientists.

Researchers even made adjustments in their assessments to account for discrepancies by only comparing scientists from similar institutions and with similar backgrounds. Still, the imbalance persisted.

“It is stricking and very disconcerting,” said Donna K, Ginther, a University of Kansas professor who led the study, in an interview with The New York Times. “It was very unexpected to find this big of a gap that couldn’t be explained.”

While the study may have not found any acceptable reason (i.e. something other than blatant racism), there are factors to consider.

First, there are far fewer black scientists than white ones — something many likely consider a problem in and of itself. Out of the 12.6 percent of the US population that is black, only 2.9 percent are medical students or school faculty members. And a mere 1.2 percent are lead researchers in a biomedical field.

Because there are simply fewer black scientists, there are also fewer black scientists applying for grants. According to the study, 71 percent of applicants were white; 1.5 percent said they were black; 13.5 percent were Asian; and 11 percent identified themselves as “unknown” or “other.”

The study’s researchers concluded that even the blacks who do choose to enter the  scientific researcher field are at a disadvantage to their white counterparts.

“It indicates to us that we have not only failed to recruit the best and brightest minds from all of the groups that need to come and join us,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of NIH, “but for those who have come and joined us, there is an inequity in their ability to achieve funding from the N.I.H.”

Dr. Collins says that the prejudice in the NIH is likely an unconscious one.

“Even today, in 2011, in our society, there is still an unconscious, insidious form of bias that subtly influences people’s opinions,” said Dr. Collins. “I think that may be very disturbing for people in the scientific community to contemplate, but I think we have to take that as one of the possibilities and investigate it and see if that is in fact still happening.”

“This situation is not acceptable,” Dr. Collins added. “This is not one of those reports that we will look at and then put aside.”

[Image via RDaniel/Shutterstock]

Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Computing

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.
Web

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.
Computing

Microsoft is ‘handing even more of online life’ to Google, Mozilla CEO says

Not everyone is happy with Microsoft's switch to Google's Chromium engine. In a new blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writes that he believes the move is "handing online life control" to Google.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?