JEDDAH: Science researchers, women promoting science to girls and young women in Saudi Arabia have been encouraged to submit applications to the Inspiring Women in Science Award 2021.
The award, initiated by Nature Research Awards in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies, targets leading women researchers, and those engaged in outreach with girls and women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and medicine.
Previously known as Inspiring & Innovating Science, the award promotes gender equity in scientific research and education through targeting contestants under two categories.
The first is the Scientific Achievement category, which goes to early-career women researchers who have given exceptional contributions to scientific discovery despite challenges.
The second category is Science Outreach, targeting projects and organizations that are supporting girls and young women to engage with and enjoy STEM subjects or empowering women in science careers.
“There is a lot of potential in Saudi women scientists and participating in such contests gives a sense of credibility, assurance and confidence. It also raises awareness and gives the younger Saudi women an aspiration to strive for,” research engineer with Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center, Suha Kayum, told Arab News.
Kayum, an expert in high-performance computing and reservoir simulation, said that not seeing many Saudi women participating in these contests does not defy the fact that they exist. However, they need support as well as awareness to engage in science careers and opportunities.
Nonetheless, Kayum stressed that the reality is changing, with women having more academic exposure and access to these contests.
“I personally began to have the awareness and courage to participate after being encouraged by my management,” said Kayum, adding: “Since this is a new territory for a lot of us, we need that push. I, myself, am a winner of a Global Energy Show Emerging Leader award in 2019 and I believe I owe it to my manager who encouraged me to apply.”
She added: “Soon enough I believe we will see many more Saudi women participating in these contests as the skills and accomplishments to compete globally are definitely there.”
The winners of both categories will receive a monetary grant of $40,000 to spend on their work, as well as mentoring through The Estée Lauder Companies and other publicity opportunities.
Magdalena Skipper, editor in chief of Nature, said: “Women, especially those in the early stages of their research career, continue to be underappreciated for their contributions to science.”
She added: “The winners of this award are much-needed role models for others to follow in their footsteps. Equally importantly, the award helps further STEM subjects with women and girls in a diverse range of countries across the world.”
Applicants must complete their online application by June 20. A shortlist will be announced in September, and winners will be announced in October during the award ceremony.
The judges panel will consist of independent academic scientists, external experts, as well as staff from Nature Portfolio and The Estée Lauder Companies.