When a series of entirely reasonable decisions leads to biased outcomes: thoughts on the Waterman Award
The National Science Foundation just announced the winner of the 2014 Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest award it gives to a scientist or engineer under the age of 35.The winner is Feng Zhang, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute and Harvard. In addition to being a huge honor, the award comes with $1 million dollars of research funding. It’s a big deal. And, for that reason, I was concerned to see that, just like the previous 10 winners, this year’s winner was a man.Now, I want to be clear: Feng Zhang is clearly a very impressive scientist, and is highly deserving of this award. So is each man who won the award in the previous decade. But when male scientists win an award 10 times in a row (in one year, two men won), I would suggest that argues that it’s worth examining the process for unintended biases.
Love the Dynamic Ecology blog and Meg - she’s spot on here. If you’re interested in Ecology at all, this is a great blog on other topics as well.