The Department of Defense (DOD) will start collecting data on the gender of its grant applicants and award recipients to help determine whether women in science and engineering face any discrimination in the grantsmaking process.
Last year, three members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked a congressional watchdog agency to analyze the issue at the six biggest federal research agencies. But the Government Accountability Office found that three of them—DOD, NASA, and the Department of Energy (DOE)—don’t have the information needed to answer that question. Last week, DOD’s head of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, Frank Kendall, wrote to the legislators saying that the department “has found no legal hurdles that would prevent the Department from collecting this data.” Kendall said DOD would work with agencies that already do so, notably the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, “to determine best practices before beginning data collection.”
On Friday, the three legislators—representatives Louise Slaughter (D–NY), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), and Rosa DeLauro (D–NY)—thanked DOD “for its swift response and commitment to ensuring a fair grant-making process.” There’s been no response yet from DOE and NASA, although the three lawmakers said they hoped those agencies would “follow the Defense Department’s example and begin gathering the data needed.”