Call for nominations

The Annual BiasWatchNeuro Award for Equity and Inclusivity

Deadline extension — Nominations* for the 2020 award now accepted through September 15

Diverse voices and ideas deserve to be heard equitably in science. Since 2015, BiasWatchNeuro has worked to increase the representation of women in neuroscience and related fields, emphasizing in particular the representation of women as invited speakers at conferences. However, women are not the only group that is confronted with implicit biases and systemic obstacles in science. Minoritized groups are severely underrepresented at every level of the academic career path — from undergraduate education to faculty. Attempts to diversify departments have increased, but the reality is that many universities and institutions still embody and perpetuate both the historical influence of being established by men of privilege, and the persisting effects of systemic racism in our society. Even as more diverse student bodies are recruited, the culture in many departments and institutions is not welcoming to and supportive of those that belong to minoritized groups. Intersectionality adds another layer of disadvantage, with minoritized women being especially underrepresented and unsupported.

It is time to change this reality and build a new one, in our departments and institutions. Black scientists matter. Latinx scientists matter. LGBTQAI+ scientists matter. First generation scientists matter. Low income scientists matter. Intersectionality matters.

BiasWatchNeuro is excited to announce a new Annual Award for Equity and Inclusivity, awarded to a neuroscience or neuroscience-related department, institute or program that demonstrates the exceptional creation of a culture where individuals underrepresented and/or marginalized in STEM feel integral to the community and thrive. 

We recognize that no department/institute/program is perfect. However, some are doing much better than others, and should be recognized for this. Nomination letters for winners and runner ups will be made public (without the list of signatories, which will remain confidential), to showcase successful methods for creating an inclusive and equitable culture, and to provide prospective trainees at all levels with information that can inform their decisions of where to apply to. We hope that this will help us all improve our practices and move toward a day in which all neuroscientists feel seen, respected, and supported. 

Nominations for the 2020 award will be accepted through September 15, 2020. Awards will be announced in late September. 

Letter of nomination signed by one or more trainees (current and/or alumni; including post-bacc/RAs; faculty cannot nominate their current program) should be sent to Letters should describe in detail specific actions and elements that promote inclusivity and equity, and their impact on underrepresented/marginalized groups. More than one letter and/or letters with multiple signatories will be viewed favorably.

Names of the nominating people will remain confidential and will not be seen by anyone except a small award committee, who are committed to confidentiality.  The letter itself will be made public only with permission and after redactions as warranted to maintain the confidentiality of the nominators.

* We are aware that many institutions are in the midst of a process to increase equity and inclusivity in their departments, institutes and programs, and have not yet reached close to their desired goal. However, the aim of this award — and the nomination letters — is to highlight methods and efforts that are effective, even while realizing that more work needs to be done. Please consider nominating your department/institute/program not because they are perfect, but because some of what they are doing can be helpful for others to know about. 
We also encourage nominations of units for the work of individuals, committees or groups within them — even if the unit as a whole has not yet moved the needle as much as one would have hoped for. If this is the case in your institution, please note in your nomination letter the subgroups or individuals who are the strand bearers and should be highlighted by the award. 
Please make your nomination letters as specific as possible by highlighting the activities that have been successful or are underway, for instance (but not limited to)
– Having an active inclusive teaching committee 
– Encouraging faculty to undergo syllabus review
– Making sure there are regular safe spaces (e.g., a weekly chat) to talk about issues of climate and inclusion 
– Investing in trainee and faculty recruitment and retention to enhance departmental diversity
– Organizing read-ins for faculty to discuss books on social and racial justice
– Organizing a diversity-related journal club 
We emphasize that any winner of the award will be congratulated for what they have done so far—but expected to do more in the future. The award is for one year only, and next year the institution will have to compete for it again. As we all improve our practices, the standards for winning will increase. That is the goal of this award — to catalyze a process.