Original Research

Gendered research grant conditions and their effect on women’s application (dis)engagement

Anita Bosch, Georgina Pondayi
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 18, No 1 | a1281 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v18i1.1281 | © 2022 Anita Bosch, Georgina Pondayi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 August 2022 | Published: 20 December 2022

About the author(s)

Anita Bosch, Stellenbosch Business School, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Georgina Pondayi, Stellenbosch Business School, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Men continue to outperform women in obtaining funding through research grants globally, in both science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and social science, in multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields. This article focuses on the role of research grant funding conditions in women’s lack of research grant funding. Grant conditions are the rules of participation and funding use set out by grant funders. This study aimed to answer the question: how do grant conditions limit women’s propensity to engage with research grant applications? Research grants from the Open 4 Research database were analysed. Research careers with a reproductive life-cycle perspective and four feminist concepts were deliberately gendered. These resulted in a theoretical framework. A content analysis on n = 270 multidisciplinary early career grants for those who already have a PhD was conducted. Grants were selected from both the social science and STEM disciplines. The findings suggest that, overwhelmingly, grant conditions are gender-neutral, assuming no differences between women and men. A comparison between STEM and social science grant conditions also show very little difference. The article provides a framework to guide multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary grant funders in crafting deliberately gendered grant conditions.

Transdisciplinary contribution: A pre-application phase to the research grant application process by problematising gender neutrality in early-career researcher grant conditions is introduced. It is posited that grants’ gender neutrality is discouraging women to consider applying, resulting in self-exclusion early in the pre-application phase.


Grant conditions; research grants; gender; grant applications; research careers; early career researchers; women researchers.


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