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Want more women to win prestigious prizes? Nominate them!

May 16, 2013

Two AGU planetary sciences section awards are open for nominations for two more weeks. The deadline is May 31.

The Whipple Award has been given to thirteen men, and zero women, since its inauguration in 1990. Although I have no specific information about the gender of nominees, I would be shocked if a relative dearth of women nominees were not a factor that contributes to this appalling statistic. We can fix this. Want to see a woman win the Whipple in 2013? Nominate one. Here is what you have to do:

The Whipple Award was established in 1989 to honor an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of planetary science. The award is named after Fred Whipple, a gifted astronomer most noted for his work on comets. Whipple was an AGU Fellow elected in 1962 and the Section’s first Whipple Award honoree in 1990. Whipple passed away in 2004. His many accomplishments are described in this CfA Press Release.

Past Awardees have spanned the breadth and depth of the planetary sciences section. [EDITORIAL NOTE: I beg to differ, since there’s obviously at least one dimension along which the “breadth” of the section has not been spanned. –ESL]

Nominations are accepted at any time, but reviewed annually in the summer. Nomination packages must be received by the deadline. Packages should include a current CV and publications list for the nominee, and a nomination letter outlining the candidate’s significant contributions. The nomination should be accompanied by three to six supporting letters from members of the section.

Send nomination packages to:

Phil Christensen
Arizona State University
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Campus Box 6305
Tempe, AZ 85287-6305 USA

Phone: +1-480-865-7105

Deadline: May 31, 2013.

The other AGU prize for which nominations have been extended to May 31 is the brand-new Greeley prize. No woman has won this one, either, but that’s because no one has won it at all it is new; there’s been only one prize winner (Alex Hayes), last year. Here’s the info on the Greeley prize:

The Planetary Sciences Section of AGU is seeking nominations for the Ronald Greeley Early Career Award in Planetary Science. This award is presented annually to an individual in recognition of significant early career contributions to planetary science.

The award is named for Planetary Scientist Ronald Greeley. Ron was a planetary science pioneer whose contributions include the rigorous application of terrestrial field observation techniques to analysis of planetary surfaces. He was involved in nearly every major planetary science mission from the 70s until his death in 2011. He was active in his service to the Planetary Science community, serving on and chairing many panels for both NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. But perhaps his greatest legacy to Planetary Science are the students, postdocs and colleagues he mentored through the decades. Many of the leaders of our field were either directly mentored by Ron, or strongly influenced by his work. He was happiest when sharing his passion for geology with students in the field. It is this passion for planetary science that the Section hopes to encourage and reward with the Ronald Greeley Early Career Award.

Nominees must be a member or affiliate of the AGU Planetary Sciences Section and must be within six years of receiving their Ph.D. on the first day of the year in which the award is to be made (i.e., on or after 1 January 2006 for the 2012 award.) Parental leave, if provided by the candidate’s institution and taken by the nominee during this six-year period, can extend the six-year period.

All documents included in a nomination package should be no more than two (2) pages in length. Nominations should include:

A nomination letter outlining the candidate’s significant contributions;
The candidate’s curriculum vitae;
A selected bibliography for the candidate, which should begin by briefly stating the candidate’s total number and types of publications and specifying the number published in AGU publications; and
A minimum of three but no more than six letters of support – preferably on letterhead. At least two supporting letters should be from individuals not currently or recently associated with the candidate’s institution of graduate education or employment.

Nomination packages must be submitted by the deadline in electronic form (preferred as one combined PDF file) to Phil Christensen or in hard copy to:

Phil Christensen
Arizona State University
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Campus Box 6305
Tempe, AZ 85287-6305 USA

Phone: +1-480-865-7105

Deadline: April 30, 2013.

(Yes, it says the deadline is April 30, but Bill McKinnon states clearly in his letter that the deadline has been extended to May 31.)

Awards are important both for professional standing and for the public perception of your value. Women often fail to get nominated for prizes (see e.g. this) and they are even worse at nominating themselves for prizes. For what it’s worth, I nominated myself for the AGU Walter Sullivan journalism prize for the first time this year. And if I don’t win, I’ll nominate myself again next year. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

And maybe once we address the lack of women prize winners, we can start addressing the lack of prizes named for women. One battle at a time!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cynthia Phillips permalink
    May 17, 2013 12:47 pm

    Agreed that it’s quite a bit of work to nominate someone for one of these awards, but also agreed that we need to be doing this as a community! Does anyone know if the AGU awards keep nominees on file for some number of years for future consideration (like other professional society awards do?) That could help increase the pool of candidates for awards like the Greeley, while also reducing the workload on the community to nominate people….

  2. May 16, 2013 4:36 pm

    I would gladly write a letter of support for Britney Schmidt and/or request support letters from her from well-known planetary scientists.

  3. photon permalink
    May 16, 2013 2:35 pm

    I just went through the nomination process for a DPS award for a colleague, and it was more effort that I expected to hustle up letters of recommendation, a CV (acquired via a witting accomplice spouse), and the list of publications. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from nominating someone, but this isn’t necessarily something to polish off in a few hours on a lazy Friday afternoon! I asked colleagues for one-page letters written in a half hour, which worked pretty well, and I submitted six in the package.

    I am too new of a career scientist to start an effort on my own, but if anyone wants to nominate Catherine Neish, Britney Schmidt, Sarah Horst, or Lynn Carter for the Greeley early career award, Emily knows how to get in touch with me, and I am happy to find people to write letters of support.

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