Awards for women in science?

Oct 02 2014 Published by under Academia, women in science

Today I heard that someone wanted to nominate a woman in science for an award for women in science. When the woman realized what this person wanted to nominate her for, she said that she never wanted to be nominated for an award specific for women in science, because to her it almost felt like an insult; like she wasn't good enough for an award for men AND women.

What do you think? Is it good that there are awards for women in science to increase their visibility for example? Or are they like a consolation prize?

10 responses so far

  • drugmonkey says:

    I firmly reject all nominations for awards below the Nobel. I feel it diminishes me to be disrespected like that.

  • GMP says:

    That woman is deluded. First of all, being nominated for that award doesn't mean you cannot be nominated for other "real" awards (presumably she thinks an award is real only if dudes are eligible). Second, just because something is for women doesn't mean it's not super competitive or prestigious (e.g. L'Oreal Women in Science fellowship), so she may not even get it because there are better women out there. Third -- dude, any shiny new bullet in the "Honors and Awards" part of your CV is a good thing and begets more and newer awards.
    The right response to being nominated for any award is "Oh! Thank you very much for nominating me. What materials do you need from me/what can I do to help with the nomination?"

    • babyattachmode says:

      I agree with you, but I can kind of understand the ambivalence with awards for women and quota for women in science/industry. But at the same time I think that the fact that we need this means that we're not there yet.

  • Anonymous says:

    "I firmly reject all nominations for awards below the Nobel. I feel it diminishes me to be disrespected like that."

    Wow, what a load of stupid! Spoken like someone who will never have to deal with this issue, on any front. Even if your attitude is "take the money and run," this is still a legitimate question, not a fuckin' joke.

    No, the concept of awards just for women scientists doesn't really make sense, despite the good intentions. Whether you should accept them or not depends on how far up the ladder you are. If you are sufficiently visible, feel free to decline and say why.

  • outoftune says:

    I think it's good that these awards exist, but unfortunate that they're necessary. I was a bit more ambivalent about their existence until I read this paper:

    which made me think about how I was thinking about it (if that makes sense). It's a study of the paradox of people's reactions to a program to hire more female faculty members in the physical sciences in the Netherlands:

    "Our respondents argued that it was necessary to have a special women's program in order to encourage women to pursue academic careers in physics, while simultaneously arguing that such a program might jeopardize the quality of research. This “getting help” dilemma impedes the effectiveness of equality programs."

    It's a pity that this paradox exists, but I can understand why the nominee in your post reacted negatively. Hopefully she's able to reconsider.

    PS - I really enjoy the blog! As a Canadian now in the Netherlands, some of your observations really resonate, especially about (academic) cultural differences and hiring practices.

  • Anonymous says:

    This applies to awards specifically for minorities as well. I struggle with accepting them. A large part of it is knowing that others believe that I only got an award because I'm a minority. It doesn't matter whether I receive non-minority awards.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Take the money and run

  • Established PI says:

    I am not a fan of these awards (you're really great, for a woman....). My personal solution is that I have been nominating women for various society and national awards that typically go to men. Too early to have any data on the results, but I am trying!

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