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I-Corps Hub West: Research Analysis

The article discuses gender differences in the peer review of innovation.

Diversity and Innovation: The I-Corps program places a strong emphasis on promoting

diversity and inclusion in the innovation ecosystem. The article's exploration of gender

differences in peer review could tie into this aspect. If the article highlights biases or

discrepancies in how innovation is reviewed or evaluated based on gender, this could

underscore the importance of addressing such biases in programs like I-Corps. Ensuring that innovative ideas from all genders are given equal consideration aligns with I-Corps' goal of fostering a diverse and robust innovation landscape.

Equity in Commercialization: If the article uncovers disparities in how innovations led by different genders are perceived or supported, this could relate to the I-Corps program's mission of assisting researchers and entrepreneurs in translating their technologies into commercial products. The program's focus on equitable support for all innovators is reinforced by addressing any potential biases identified in the peer review process, allowing the program to better achieve its goal of promoting innovation and economic growth.

Overcoming Barriers: If the article discusses barriers that innovators from underrepresented genders face during the innovation process, this insight could inform how the I-Corps program tailors its support. By understanding and addressing the challenges faced by certain groups, I-Corps can provide targeted resources and training to help participants overcome these barriers, ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Educational Component: The I-Corps program includes a strong educational component that helps researchers and entrepreneurs develop the skills needed to navigate the complexities of commercializing their innovations. If the article sheds light on gender-specific challenges in this process, the I-Corps program can incorporate this knowledge into its curriculum to offer guidance and strategies for overcoming these challenges.

Research and Insights: If the article provides data-driven insights into gender-related

dynamics within the innovation ecosystem, these insights can contribute to a more informed approach by the I-Corps program. By being aware of these dynamics, the program can better tailor its support, resources, and mentorship to ensure that innovators of all genders receive fair treatment and access to opportunities.

In essence, the article's exploration of gender differences in the peer review of innovation can provide valuable insights to the I-Corps program in terms of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in its efforts to support researchers and entrepreneurs in commercializing their innovations. By understanding and addressing potential biases or challenges, the program can better fulfill its mission of driving innovation and economic development.


This study generates important insights about the role that gender bias plays in peer review to allocate resources for innovation. We document the persistent disparity of females in the proposal pool of the NASA SBIR program and I-Corps program, despite an explicit mission objective to increase participation. Further, we find consistent evidence of gender bias in the review process such that female PIs receive lower Technical Scores than comparable male applicants.


We demonstrate that despite a lack of inequities in award selection, women face significant bias as their proposals advance through peer review. The principal mechanism appears to be evaluator reliance on gender as a status characteristic. This effect operates despite a programmatic objective of increasing the participation of women and suggests a strong cognitive challenge in reconciling the decision-making process with the overarching mission. This bias is partially moderated by information conferring legitimacy on the proposer at the individual level, reflected in application history. Unfortunately, women apply less frequently and are disproportionately highly represented in the newcomer pool. While training for applicants can help, training for reviewers is more critical to address the bias evidently intrinsic to the process. These results contribute to our understanding of the peer review construct and its susceptibility to biases through the reviewers' persistent use of gender as a status characteristic, as well as differences in the evaluation of legitimacy of unknown individuals in the presence of gendered identification


USC Research Team | I-Corps Hub West: Andrea P. Belz, Alexandra Graddy-Reed; Isabel Hanewicz; Richard J. Terrile


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