For SIAM and SIAM Activity Group Officers and Selection Committees
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.
- 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.
Selecting Recipients (for all Selection Committee Members)
- Discuss the process and criteria that will be used to evaluate nominees before reviewing nominations. Develop a rubric that matches published criteria. Research has shown that implicit bias can enter via unintentional “criteria-shifting” after nominees are discussed.
- Committees should consider carefully the purpose and intent of the prize and measure the nominations against the purpose listed in the prize specifications. The selection committee should take care to not simply choose from names of nominees known to the committee members.
- Each committee member should make a personal list of top nominees before hearing the recommendations of any other members. This avoids the undue influence of one member and ensures that the list of viable nominees is as large as possible before discussion begins.
- Look for hidden gems. Pay special attention to suggestions from atypical sources. Some department chairs have lots of experience and are pros at writing letters of recommendation; others are not. Take the time to look carefully at every nomination. Individuals have made considerable effort to generate a nomination package. Each package should receive a suitable discussion of its merits and/or weaknesses.
- Create short lists via inclusive rather than exclusive methods. For instance, select candidates that are outstanding, rather than finding reasons to eliminate candidates from consideration.
- The selection committee is required to discuss the nominees before making a final decision. Selection cannot be handled fully via email or through algorithms without discussion. Discussions should be open to all selection committee members. Any discussions of prize nominations/selections should be at a meeting set in advance (most likely a teleconference) with all invited to participate. Exceptions can be made for conflicts of interest.
- Ensure that every committee member’s voice is heard. Do not let any committee member remain silent.
- Take adequate time to make a decision. Research has shown implicit bias is mitigated when committees have time for thoughtful reflection and discussion, instead of making snap judgments.
- Avoid potential conflicts of interest. Often candidates are so well-known that associations with selection committee members are unavoidable. In all discussions, members should make clear any connection they may have with a person under consideration and recuse themselves if appropriate.
- If an award specification states that the award shall be given to a single winner, then multiple recipients will not be approved by SIAM. The committee chair should not vote if their vote will leave the committee with a tie.
- All committee members should agree, at the end, that the nomination selected for the prize is a fair representation and was chosen in a proper manner (even if a minority voted for another package as the first choice).
- If a committee member must be removed from a committee due to a conflict of interest, the committee position should be filled with a new member meeting the same technical and demographic profile as the original member where possible.
Any SIAM-sponsored prize (including SIAM Activity Group Prizes) which receives less than three new nominations to an open call for nominations will not be awarded in that cycle. In the case that the prize is skipped for one cycle, any nominations that were received and remain eligible will be carried over for the next cycle. More information can be found in SIAM's Prize Policy.
Previous nominations will roll over for one cycle when it makes sense to do so. For example, it makes sense to roll over a nomination for a lifetime achievement award but not for a best dissertation prize (since there is a small window of eligibility in the latter case). This is a SIAM policy decision and not the decision of the selection committee or its chair. The SIAM office will include the rolled-over nominations in the packages of nominations that it distributes to the committee.
The membership of the prize committee will be made public at the time of the announcement of the call for nominations. Members of the prize committee are not eligible for nomination or allowed to submit nominations.
Informing SIAM of the Committee’s Outcome
The selection committee chair should send the final selection to the SIAM Prize Program, along with:
- Name of prize winner selected.
- Citation of about 100 words that may be read at the time of the award.
- Brief Citation (for prize certificate).
- Justification (a short report on the committee's deliberations that justifies the recommendation)
- Description of the process used for selection including how Conflicts of Interest were handled and what was done to lessen effects of implicit bias
Approved by the SIAM Board of Trustees - June 2019
These guidelines were partially adapted from MAA guidelines