The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) Awards Nomination Task Force aims to purposefully locate deserving but potentially overlooked members of the experimental biology community and put their work in front of judging panels for various bioscience awards. By increasing diversity in the nomination stages, we hope to have a knock-on effect of increasing the diversity of the winners selected.
The SEB has just started setting up the Awards Nomination Task Force as part of our Centenary celebration, and everyone is welcome to join independently of their career level!
We want your help! It doesn't matter your career level, or whether you know or not about the behind-the-scenes of science awards, there are always different ways you can support.
We have just started to put this task force together, so there is a lot of work to do, and you can be part of important decisions to shape the future of this project. We have been working with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Space Physics and Aeronomy (SPA) Nomination Task Force (NTF) to learn and get inspiration to create our own.
If you have any questions, please contact our Outreach, Education and Diversity Manager, Rebecca Ellerington at [email protected].
- How diverse are the winners of science awards?
- Have scientists been recognised fairly for their contributions?
- In fact, how do the science awards even work?
The answer is that science can do better!
The topic is highly complex and a systemic challenge. Without diversifying science, meaning giving opportunities to historically marginalised groups, there is no way to nominate their contributions if they haven’t had the opportunity or time to make them in the first place . However, even when more women have been getting professorships, they haven’t been honoured with awards in the same proportion .
One way to improve diversity in science awards and prizes is to nominate more scientists from historically marginalised groups. Without a pool of people to choose from, a change won’t happen. That is why awareness and proactive intentions of diversifying nominations can help . Nonetheless, since it is a snowball problem, it will take time to observe any changes.
The benefits for the nominees go beyond winning, which by itself brings recognition and springboards their careers. It also comes from the entire nomination process, including reflection on skills to fill the gaps for career progression, expansion of their networking, intentional peer recognition, and valuable feedback from senior scientists . Even more impactful would be for them if the award-givers published a list of the nominees and nominators. Fortunately, some award-givers have already started making these changes to their award process .
Other recommendations directed toward award-givers are diversifying the awards committee, which is usually composed of previous winners, publishing the list of the committee members, and creating a nomination committee. This would be useful for transparency, diversity and data collection for long-term evaluation .
Awareness and training on how to nominate, the benefits of such collective effort, and data openness could lead us to make essential changes with quicker outcomes. Spreading the word and demystifying the process is also part of this project.
 Diversity in science prizes: why is progress so slow?, 2022. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-01608-z
 Holgate, S. A. 2017. The benefits of awards—even if you don’t win. In Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). https://doi.org/10.1126/science.caredit.a1700044
 James, A., Chisnall, R., Plank, M.J., 2019. Gender and societies: a grassroots approach to women in science. R. Soc. open sci. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190633