Abstract. This review is about the relationship between research funding allocation, gender and under-represented minorities (URM). Research on gender and URM disparities in research funding is relevant as it speaks directly to the unexplained gaps in career advancement by illuminating potential effects of gender, race and ethnicity characteristics on productivity, reputation and compensation, offering potential explanations for the distribution of other types of organizational resources and career opportunities.

The allocation of research funding is generally performed by the funding bodies, and it has been traditionally expected to operate under some values and principles shared by the science community such as merit-based allocations and equity and not be based on any ascriptive feature of the individuals, like gender, race or ethnicity. Additionally, social and policy pressures for the adoption of other social values exist, such as gender and race equality, or more generally, the observation of non-discriminatory practices. Despite the abundant literature on gender inequality in academia (see Ceci et al. 2014 for a review) and much less regarding URM (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics 2021; Bernard and Cooperdock 2018), research remains largely inconclusive as to whether disparities are mainly the result of structural differences, self-selection or the effect of different types or discrimination or bias during the review and allocation processes. We will argue that there are analytical gaps as well as methodological challenges that should be addressed in order to increase the robustness of research on this topic.

The scope of this review refers to the recent situation of research funding in various countries and agencies with a focus on gender and URM disparities. It also tries to assess the changing trends. We consider research funding allocation as a process and at each phase there are factors that lead to disparities in funding outcomes across groups. Adopting this type of dynamic perspective means that cumulative effects play a relevant role. We focus on grant funding and not on baseline funding allocated through, for instance, hiring. We do not cover issues related to how research funding supports careers since this is addressed in Melkers, Woolley and Kreth (Chapter 18 in this Handbook). Furthermore, given the complexity and specificity of research funding allocation practices across agencies and countries, their variations and their context dependent effects, we do not discuss funding agency policies designed
to provide a more equitable allocation of funding