It’s a fact: awards matter. The department, college, university, and your senior colleagues from on and off campus notice when you win an award. It makes you more marketable to other institutions, and you are more likely to be asked to give talks.
It’s a fact: women are put up for and subsequently win fewer awards than men. It is true that there are fewer women, but they are also not thought of as frequently as men. So, you have to do some leg work to get nominated.
Women should try to win awards. In order to win, you need to get nominated. How do you go about getting nominated? I got some good advice from another WomanOfScience over a year ago. She said, if you want to be nominated for an award, just ask. I know it sounds crazy, but that is what you need to do. It takes out the inadvertent forgetfulness in the nomination process.
Who do you ask? Many departments have a awards committee. It is their job to nominate department members for awards. The problem a lot of women have is that (1) The committee often doesn’t think about woman-only awards, and (2) The committee is often not aware of awards within your specific subfield. That is why you need to tell them about the awards for which you should be nominated. You need to give them plenty of time, like 6 weeks. They will brush you off, but you need to remind them when there is 4 weeks until the due date. At the 4 week period, send to them your packet, with all the information they need and the list of the writers you recommend for them to ask. It feels weird to basically tell them what to do, but you are making it easier for them to nominate you.
If your department doesn’t have an awards committee to nominate you, ask your department chair. All the committee/chair needs to do is organize the nomination, put together the packet (which you will give them/him/her), and make it easy for the letter writers to write wonderful things about you.