For Anyone Putting Together a Selection Committee
Guidelines on SIAM Prize and Recognition Committee Formation and Processes
SIAM wishes to ensure a welcoming environment in all its activities, including prize selection committees.
Statement on Inclusiveness
As a professional society, SIAM is committed to providing an inclusive climate that encourages the open expression and exchange of ideas, that is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and that is welcoming and comfortable to all members and to those who participate in its activities. In pursuit of that commitment, SIAM is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all participants regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, disabilities, veteran status, field of expertise, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. This philosophy extends from SIAM conferences to its publications, and to its governing structures and bodies. We expect all members of SIAM and participants in SIAM activities to work towards this commitment.
Diversity in recognition gives visible evidence of SIAM’s commitment to equity and inclusion. While selection committees strive for fairness in selecting winners based on established criteria, studies have shown that unconscious, unintentional assumptions can sometimes influence judgment -- this is the problem of implicit bias.
Generally, selection committees should strive to choose the best nomination package from among those submitted to SIAM – the one that best fulfills the stated purpose of the prize as listed in the prize description/principle guideline.
In order to do this, the prize selection committee chair should ensure that every committee member’s voice is heard; and budget adequate time to make a decision while moderating selection discussions to include all members. Studies show that implicit bias is lessened when committees have time for thoughtful reflection and discussion.
The following guidelines may help selection committees avoid implicit bias. They augment, but do not supersede, existing prize specifications.
Appointing Committees (for groups who form Selection Committees)
- Appoint diverse selection committees and committee chairs. Diverse committees provide access to a wider set of networks from which to cultivate nominations and suggestions. Committee members and chairs from underrepresented groups may cushion against unintentional stereotyping.
- The committee should include diversity across technical areas, gender, employment sector, (where possible) ethnic background, and geographic location.
- Committee members for a particular prize should not be taken from lists of prior winners of that prize. Using prior prize winners can perpetuate demographics or topical research areas within groups of successive prize winners. In addition, not using prior prize winners reduces the chances of quid pro quo between selectors and nominees.
- Each committee member should have a designated alternate or two who can be asked to stand in for that member should that member have a conflict of interest that requires them to leave the committee. Names of these alternates should be submitted for approval along with the committee member selections.
- The committee members should identify any conflicts of interest as soon as possible after the nomination deadline has passed. The SIAM office, working with the designators of the selection committee and the VP-At-Large if needed, will replace any committee member with significant conflicts using the list of designated alternates.
Developing a Nomination Pool (for SIAM Activity Group Officers and SIAM Leadership and Office)
- All prize nominations must be received through the SIAM Prize Portal, unless otherwise specified.
- Generate a large and diverse pool of nominees. This step is crucial to ensuring that the pool of nominees contains as many eligible candidates as possible (especially those whose work is outstanding but less well-known).
- The prize committee is encouraged to help promote the prize and advertise the open call for nominations. Any nomination must be submitted along with appropriate documentation to the SIAM office. This does not mean that prize committee members may make nominations; prize selection committee members must abide by the Conflict of Interest guidelines.
- In particular, publicize the award or position among underrepresented groups. When appropriate, encourage groups such as AWM, NAM, SACNAS, and institutions exemplary in their support of women and minorities to make nominations.
- Periodically review and discuss practices for building a pool of nominees. Examine lists of nominees, short-lists of nominees, and past “winners” for historical patterns with an eye towards gender or other under-represented groups.
- Periodically review the award or recognition program description and guidelines. Particular attention should be paid to the language used to describe the award or position --- e.g., are the words used associated more often with males than females? --- as well as restrictions that could disproportionately affect certain groups--- e.g., do age limits affect women who take time off to raise a family? For suggested changes, make recommendations to the Major Awards Committee.
Approved by the SIAM Board of Trustees - May 2021
These guidelines were partially adapted from MAA guidelines, and, in part, from postdoctoral fellowship screening processes in use at Sandia National Laboratories.