Under-representation of Talents among Awards in Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry

Amy Riches, Olivier Pourret, Magali Ader, Pallavi Anand, Sandra Arndt, Pieter Bots, Anthony Dosseto, Zimin Li, Johanna Marin-Carbonne, Jennifer Middleton, Bryne Ngwenya

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Abstract / Description of output

Diversity and inclusion at all levels in science drive excellence and innovative research. Hence, it is critical that society awards are accessible to all on an equitable basis. Such marks of esteem are important to career progression, and set standards and aspirations for community culture. Award winners should represent inspiring role models that a range of people and teams can relate with. The nature of our awards and recognition systems also contribute to the image of the geochemistry and cosmochemistry discipline as well as perceptions of its inclusiveness. These factors influence community values and morale, demonstrating that award systems are key tools to making a person-specific and wider difference.
The Joint Award Task Force of the Geochemical Society (GS) and European Association of Geochemistry (EAG) is spearheading work to critically analyse and advance understanding of our award assessment processes and attributions. The first step in this work involved the collation of available data for the V.M Goldschmidt, F.W. Clarke, C.C. Patterson, H.C. Urey, and F.G. Houtermans medals[1]. Each of these awards, among others, recognise the solo ‘genius’ model and we note an over-representation of white males based in large North American and European institutions among award recipients, approaching 90 % in some cases.
Of 173 EAG and GS awards, 154 (89%) were attributed to men and 19 (11%) to women. Gender ratios of awards in the last decade (2011-2020) improved slightly; of 50 awards, 37 (74%) went to men and 13 (26%) to women. Presently available data are such that we are unable to appraise under-represented countries as well as minoritised racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+ people, and groups of varying career paths, physical / mental health ableness and neurodiversity. Nevertheless we conclude that the awards bestowed by EAG and GS are presently imbalanced. Hence, current award assessment procedures require extensive re-evaluation and this provides a pathway to advance inclusion and prize teamwork. We cannot realise reforms alone and appeal to the community to join discussions that will develop recommendations to evolve awards for 2022 onward.


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