This page belongs to: STEM Equity Monitor

Research funding in STEM and other fields

Two datasets show research funding of chief investigators and all investigators:

  • Australian Research Council (ARC)

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

These help us understand the success rate of women and men researchers in STEM and other fields.

Research grant funding

See how many researchers (chief investigators and investigators) applied for and received funding in 2021.

Source: Australian Research Council (ARC) unpublished, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (unpublished)

Data insights

As at November 2021, the proportion of women researchers that applied for and received grants for STEM research continued to decrease after a slight rise in 2019.

By November 2021, fewer women had been named on STEM research grant applications than men. This is consistent with the 2020 data at a similar point in time. Across all STEM fields, 22% of applicants for ARC funding were women. 34% of NHMRC applicants were women.

As there were fewer female applicants than male applicants, this resulted in fewer women gaining funding than men:

  • 543 women received ARC funding, with 430 as chief investigator. In comparison, 1,918 men received ARC funding (1,355 as chief investigator).
  • 93 women received NHMRC funding, with 32 as chief investigator. 163 men received NHMRC funding (77 as chief investigator).

A higher proportion of women were named in applications for medical and health sciences research compared to STEM research grant applications:

  • Women represented 41% of all ARC applicants and 44% of NHMRC applicants in these fields.
  • Women were named as chief investigators on 44% of ARC applications and 47% of NHMRC applications in these fields.

Success rates for women and men researchers in STEM fields were similar except for NHMRC chief investigator grants, where men had a 4 percentage point higher success rate.

  • 25% of women investigators who applied for an ARC grant were successful, compared to 24% of men.
  • 25% of women chief investigators who applied for an ARC grant were successful, compared to 23% of men.
  • 11% of women investigators who applied for an NHMRC grant were successful. 11% of men were also successful.
  • 8% of women chief investigators who applied for an NHMRC grant were successful, compared to 12% of men.

About the data

ARC and NHMRC provide the data.

The dataset shows the number of researchers (chief investigators and investigators) who were named on applications and received funding each year. It uses the 2-digit Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC).

We define whether data falls in STEM, non-STEM or health fields of research using our methodology. Some researchers working in health or non‑STEM research fields may still hold STEM qualifications or work in a STEM occupation.

ARC includes ‘Medical and Health Sciences’ (Division 11) and ‘Psychology and Cognitive Sciences’ (Division 17) in its definition of STEM. These classifications don’t align with our definition. Therefore, ARC’s self-reported data and reporting may not be comparable with the numbers on this page.

Individuals may be counted more than once on NHMRC and ARC applications, due to single researchers being included on multiple applications in different CI roles each year.

Read more about our methodology and this data.