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The effect of mentee and mentor gender on scientific productivity of applicants for NIH training fellowships

By Hao Yu, Kristine A. Willis, Aviva Litovitz, Robert M. Harriman, Matthew T. Davis, Payam Meyer, Brad Busse, Rebecca A. Meseroll, Hashanthi D. Wijayatilake, Matthew J. Perkins, James M Anderson, George M Santangelo

Posted 03 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.02.429450

Several studies have suggested that women in science are less productive than men, and that this gap contributes to their under-representation in the ranks of senior researchers. However, few studies have examined the role of mentoring, and in particular mentor gender, on the productivity of female scientists early in their careers. Such efforts are limited by the difficulties of unambiguously linking mentees to their mentors and measuring the research productivity resulting from those relationships. Here we use our novel author disambiguation solution to investigate the role of self-identified gender in mentorship of 12,932 trainees who either successfully or unsuccessfully applied to the National Institutes of Health for research fellowships between fiscal years 2011 and 2017, applying a multi-dimensional framework to assess productivity. We found that, after normalizing for the funding level of mentors, the productivity of female and male mentees is indistinguishable; it is also independent of the gender of the mentor, other than in measures of clinical impact, where women mentored by women outperform other mentee-mentor dyads.

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