A new resource published by the Academy aims to increase the diversity of prize and award recipients in the Australian science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector.
Prepared by the EMCR Forum, Australia’s voice for early- and mid-career researchers, the comprehensive publication identifies barriers faced by under-represented groups and provides solutions to overcome them.
It is a practical guide to assist awarding organisations improve their practices and increase diversity among both applicants to and recipients of prizes and awards.
“We are really excited about the positive responses we have received so far,” says the Academy’s Manager Diversity and Inclusion, Ms Louise Moes. “This resource demonstrates the Academy’s leadership and its commitment to supporting the next generation of science leaders.”
The seven-page guide and a one-page summary are available on the Academy website.
Prizes and awards are an important component of a scientist’s career, potentially affecting their chances of promotion, recruitment and general career progression.
But many awards schemes across Australia display low diversity compared to the broader STEM sector, with women and minority groups consistently under-represented.
“The persistent exclusion of women and minority groups in research cultures has led to an image of successful scientists with which people from diverse backgrounds do not identify,” write the authors of the guide.
Key recommendations include:
- reaching a diverse pool of applicants with advertising and messaging that is visually inclusive and avoids elitist language
- using diverse role models and ‘champions’ to encourage applicants
- ensuring the call for applications is timed appropriately
- incorporating questions about career interruptions into the standard application form
- ensuring selection criteria is sufficiently flexible and that the selection panel is diverse.
The paper arose out of a series of workshops at the EMCR Science Pathways conference and Science at the Shine Dome in 2018, and was a collaborative effort of the EMCR Forum Executive and the Australian Academy of Science.