Advancing and Recognizing Women in STEMM: A Guide for Universities

The RAISE Project has tracked awards in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) over the past two decades. Our data shows that women are significantly under-recognized in STEMM fields. Over 2300 available STEMM awards have been catalogued that are open to both men and women. Additionally 122 are for women only. Of the unrestricted awards, the clear finding is that women do not receive recognition in a ratio anywhere near the percentage of women in their fields.
Universities are uniquely positioned to address the gender imbalance in STEMM awards by identifying exceptional female STEMM faculty, matching them to available awards, assisting them in the application process, and recognizing their achievements. When a university advances the career of a woman in STEMM, the both the individual and the university benefit. The individual earns prestige, and the university’s reputation improves by association.
The RAISE Project website provides a listing of available STEMM awards categorized by discipline, career level, and eligibility by gender. We encourage you to use the listing and follow the eight-step guide that we developed after analyzing over 2300 awards and more than 64800 awardees to help you select women from your STEMM faculty and navigate the STEMM award process together.

    Diversifying Awards --> 7 Steps
  1. Identify a deserving woman from your STEMM faculty.
  • Review your academic staff list.
  • Select a female candidate from your STEMM faculty whose work has not been recognized. Be broad in your considerations, looking at the quality of the work beyond the number of publications. Search for those who have not previously received awards.
  • Get to know her work.
 2. Determine which STEMM award is best suited to your candidate.
  • Review our listing of available STEMM awards at www.raiseproject.org.
  • For each award that is a match:
    1. Research previous winners. Is their work similar to your candidate’s?
    2. Determine whether the award would showcase your candidate’s strengths, paying attention to the criteria for selection.
    3. Scope out the unwritten rules. For instance, some awards may emphasize candidates who have made major discoveries, while others may give precedence to candidates who have made consistent scholarly contributions over the course of their careers.
    4. Learn about the nomination process. How many nominators are required?
    5. Review the timeline. Make sure you have enough time to help your candidate apply.
    6. Research the award’s committee. If you know current or past committee members, contact them and ask about the award process.
  • Select the award that is the best fit.
3. Recruit your candidate
  • Sell your candidate on the benefit of receiving awards.
  • If your university has an office that will advance people for awards, let them know your plans and engage their help.
  • Schedule a meeting with your candidate, and tell her why you want to help her apply.
  • Review the award application together.
  • Discuss and assign key tasks.
4. Help your candidate select the most effective nominators.
  • Review their award experience. People who have previously received the award or who have been on the selection committee make great choices.
  • Consider their prestige. Ask experts in the field for their opinions.
  • Consider their commitment. Select people who are excited to endorse your candidate and will follow through in completing the nomination.
  • Help your candidate identify the role each nominator will play and ask them for letters. Advise the candidate that she may be expected to prepare a draft letter for the nominator. This is an opportunity to align the candidate’s strengths with the award criteria.
5. Help your candidate prepare the application, and remember, implicit bias is everywhere.
  • As you prepare the application, remember that language and semantics carry tremendous weight. Men’s writing tends to come across as competitive and dominant, while women’s writing often feels more compassionate and nurturing. Award committees (both men and women) usually have implicit bias toward the masculine style.
  • Check out the webinar put out by the Association for Women in Science for more information.
  • Follow directions. Applications that do not meet all requirements may be discarded.
  • Confirm that the application materials are received.
6. If your candidate receives the award, recognize her achievement!
  • Publicize the news through every available channel. This is an exciting moment for the individual and the university.
7. If your candidate does not receive the award, encourage her to reapply.
  • Determine whether or not the nomination will be carried forward. If not, find out how to reapply.
  • Be persistent. DON’T give up! Often it takes several tries, which is a part of the process and not a reflection of the candidate.
Suggestions are welcome. Send us your questions and concerns to facilitate preparation of this section.