Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Am I Eligible?

1600px-Solvay_conference_1927It is award season for some of the societies of which I am an active member. I had someone email me to ask if I was eligible for the only women-only prize at one of the societies. It turns out that I am not. I am too old. But, I got to looking around at the other prizes. It seems that, although I am an avid and active member of the society, I am not eligible for any other award. For some awards, it isn’t the right subfield. But, even ones where I could be in the right field, I am not eligible. I need to be much, much older or much, much younger. Yet, even as I pursue the names of previous winners, I realize that there is another way in which I am not eligible. As I look at the names, all the winners are men. Almost 100%. For one, very prestigious prize, which has been given to 100 people in the past 45 years, only 3 winners were women. OK, that prize was very prestigious and had Nobel Laureates among the winners, but only 3 women? That is so, so sad. Further, even the names of the prizes are exclusionary. They are all named after great men of the fields. The only one named after a woman is the woman-only prize, which, as I say, is only for women of a certain age (young).

So, I guess I am saying that I feel ineligible for two reasons:

  1. I am not the right age. I am not young enough to be a “promising” young woman. I am too young to be a gray-haired venerable scientist.
  2. I am not the right gender. I feel that, even if I do become a gray-haired, venerable scientist, I will never be the correct gender to win these awards. I often determine my appropriateness for awards based on who has already won them and how similar we are. I see no similarity between the winners of these awards and myself. Maybe everyone feels this way?

I am thinking a few things can be done:

  1. We can nominate more women of the appropriate ages for each of these awards. I’m not talking about the woman-only award. Screw that award. I am talking about the big ones. There are senior women who have accomplished as much as the dudes winning these awards. In each field, we need to be nominating these venerable, gray-haired (perhaps dyed to be not so gray) women.
  2. There should be more awards for people of a certain age – middle age. We are forgetting the middle aged. Post-tenure, National Academy or Society Fellow age, there should be something out there.

What do you think? Should their be more mid-career awards? More women-only awards? How do we get women nominated and winning awards? The mid-career awards would help men, too. I don’t want my awesome, but not quite old colleagues to miss out on praise, too. Comment or post here. To get an email whenever I post this stuff, push the +Follow button.

Comments on: "Am I Eligible?" (4)

  1. One of my undergraduate research supervisors, who has stayed a mentor throughout my career, is a super-prominent researcher in my physical science field. She told me once that all the prizes and awards she’s won (and she’s won a bunch!) were situations in which she specifically asked a colleague to nominate her. I’m both disgusted that that was necessary, and intrigued that it clearly made such a difference. I don’t know if she’d be comfortable with me sharing her story while including her name, but I think up-and-comers need to know that this is the reality of the situation and that they should be bold about asking their colleagues to nominate them for prizes!

  2. I agree that you need to get people to nominate you. I have posted about that previously (https://womanofscience.com/2013/06/06/publicity-spot-2-awards/) and (https://womanofscience.com/2015/05/26/how-to-write-about-how-awesome-you-are/), but this is different. This is about the fact that there are no awards that I appear or feel eligible for, and there won’t be in my field until I am about 60. So, I can’t ask people to nominate me, since the awards themselves don’t seem to exist.

  3. I loved the post! I’ve often pondered over the same question, though I haven’t even begun Grad School yet. There is a bias against women, an undeniable one; at all levels.

  4. […] do. I have advocated again and again in this blog to self-nominate and to try to win awards (here, here, here). It is hard to put yourself forward when society’s bar and your own bar are so damn […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: