The apparent driving force: Women’s penchant for using “narrow” words in their grant proposals, versus men’s tendency toward “broad” words.

“Broad” words were words that appeared across many different topic areas, Kolev said, while “narrow” words were ones that appeared predominantly in one or two topic areas.

The researchers, who analyzed 6,794 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant proposals spanning a decade, also found that the text-based criteria that drove reviewers’ selections didn’t necessarily weed out weaker proposals.

On the other hand, narrow words like “contraceptive,” “oral” and “brain” were more topic-specific.

Women scientists are less likely to win funding for grants, even when they’re evaluated anonymously, according to a recent working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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