Intended for healthcare professionals


The trouble with girls: obstacles to women’s success in medicine and research—an essay by Laurie Garrett

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 24 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l333

This essay by Laurie Garrett (BMJ 2018;363:k5232, doi:10.1136/bmj.k5232, 13 Dec 2018; print issue 15-29 Dec 2018) contained some errors.

Rather than the Wellcome Trust, it was the researchers responsible for the study in reference 23 (Witteman et al) who concluded that gender gaps in grant funding were “attributable to less favorable assessments of women as principal investigators, not differences in assessments of the quality of science led by women.”

In that study the grant application reviewers were not “blinded,” as the essay said, to the sex of grant applicants: instead, the researchers compared the grants awarded when the application reviewers focused on the science rather than on the scientist.

Elsewhere, Garrett wrote that the German Cancer Research Center had hidden the identities of people applying to speak at its conference. In fact, organisers were not blinded to potential speakers’ sex but instead knowingly selected more women (see: Vogel G. Tired of male-dominated meetings, leading cancer conference makes nearly all of its speakers women. Science 28 Sep 2018,

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