Gender Bias in Award Selection

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The American Geophysical Union, AGU, along with the American Chemical Society, American Mathematical Society, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Mathematical Association of America, Society for Neuroscience, and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics are examining whether gender bias affects selection of recipients of society awards. In partnership with AWIS and supported by an NSF grant, the project is called Advancing Ways of Awarding Recognition in Disciplinary Societies (AWARDS). In the November issue of Eos , the AGU reports on the proportion of AGU members and Fellows who are women and on data for two decades of medal and award recipients. While the proportion of women being named Fellows (11%) is lower than the proportion of women members (~15-20% over 1999-2010), it is higher than the proportion of women who achieve the rank of full professor in the same period (5-9%)-and it is typically full professors who are named Fellows. Gendering is also observed for education and service awards as compared to research accomplishment awards. The report recommends steps to reduce the impact of implicit bias on candidate evaluation.