Diversity Data Report

Improving diversity across our entire remit

At NIHR, we are fully committed to actively promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and addressing inequalities. These are fundamental to our operating principles and areas of strategic focus.

One of the most important tools to enable us to make progress is data and evidence. Understanding where we are now will help us establish how we can get to where we want to be. We are beginning our EDI journey by first understanding our diversity. Since introducing a new Equality and Data Reporting system in 2020, we have been able to set baselines for further reporting, understand where there are gaps in the data, and initiate remedial actions in several areas.

Our Diversity Data Report 2020/21 will act as a stepping stone for us onto the next stage of our EDI journey. We will develop a more robust evidence base by utilising year on year data, collecting additional characteristics within the areas we have already investigated, and adding new areas and characteristics to investigate. All of which will form the basis for the continual development and improvement of our forthcoming EDI strategy.

This report has enabled us to compare ourselves to other funders and has underlined that we all face similar EDI challenges. In turn, we are now better able to collaborate with them to develop a more unified and effective approach to EDI across the entire sector and beyond.

Selected Findings


  • The representation of females in funding applications is encouraging (50.1%), although they are underrepresented in global health research (GHR) applications (28.7%).
  • Females are moderately underrepresented compared to males when it comes to membership of NIHR selection committees. By selection committee role, females make up almost two-thirds of public members.
  • Females make up a majority of people in career development programmes (62.0%) and females are far more represented amongst applications for career awards at early career stages.

77.8% vs 37.0%: Percentage of applicants for career awards who are female at the earliest career stage (Pre-Doctoral) compared to the latest (Senior Investigator)


  • Overall the representation of ethnic minority groups in applications (20.8%) is similar to the representation for academic staff in NIHR-related disciplines (17.8%).
  • Applicants for funding came from across almost all eighteen ethnicity type categories, with the highest representation in global health awards.
  • Researchers from an ethnic minority background were less successful at being awarded funding for research programmes.
  • Selection committees have lower representation of ethnic minority groups than funding applicants or award holders.

7.2% – 28.3%: Range of percentage of award holders from ethnic minority groups across our entire suite of career development and research programmes.


  • The percentage of people applying for funding who have a disability is similar across our funding programmes.
  • Application outcomes are practically identical between those who declared a disability and those who did not declare a disability.
  • Disabled people are very well represented in our public membership of selection committees.

33.2% vs 3.4%: Percentage of all public members of selection committees with a disability versus percentage of all professional members with a disability


  • Career development lead applicants are on average considerably younger than research lead applicants, as are existing award holders.
  • The average age of funding applicants is relatively consistent across all specific programmes (between 46.6 and 52.5 years old).
  • On selection committees, the age profiles are similar between career development and research programmes, although public members have an older age profile than professional members.
  • By career stage, there is a demonstrable difference in age between career development award holders.

57.3% vs 15.5%: Percentage of career development award holders who are 39 years old and under up to Doctoral level, against the same percentage for Post-Doctoral and above.

Selected Actions

On the back of the findings outlined in our Diversity Data Report 2020/21, we have initiated a number of actions, such as:

  • Improving the inclusivity and equality in our application process
  • Changing the award nomination process for NIHR Research Professorships to increase the number of nominations as long as one nominee is from an ethnic minority group
  • Making funding calls and their promotion more accessible and improving how we reach underrepresented groups
  • Introducing new policies and interventions to improve inclusion
  • Establishing new coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Setting diversity targets for selection committees.


Read our full Report:

Diversity Data Report 2020/21 - PDF

Diversity Data Report 2020/21 - Accessible HTML