When a Man Is Making the Decision, Women Are Usually Overlooked for Science Awards

New research, published on the website of Social Studies of Science, finds that when men chair committees that select recipients of scientific awards, men are selected as winners of the awards 95 percent of the time. In this study, women were 21 percent of the nominees for these awards but less than 5 percent of the winners.

Women made up 19.5 percent of the members of the awards committees. But when a man was chair of the committee, having women on the committee made no difference on the gender of the eventual winner.

When women do win awards, they are more likely to be honored for teaching or service, rather than for research or scholarship.

The researchers suggested some possible solutions to this problem such as increasing the proportion of female nominees for all types of scientific prizes, ensuring that women are well represented on prize committees, constantly reviewing award criteria to check for implicit bias, and establishing an oversight committee to maintain standards of equality.

The lead author of the study was Anne E. Lincoln, an assistant professor of sociology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The article, “The Matilda Effect in Science: Awards and Prizes in the U.S., 1990s and 2000s” can be downloaded for free for a limited time here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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  1. Rich Behnke says:

    What is the percent of female winners IF a woman chairs the selection committee? The article doesn’t say. It would be interesting to compare it with the the percent of winners if a man chairs the committee.

  2. Karla Shepard Rubinger says:

    The composition of corporate boards has also documented that greater diversity on the Board is correlated with a better bottom line…

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