An ecologist climbs up a cliff to collect and study salamanders.

Two new awards schemes highlight the challenges faced by female scientists.Credit: Joel Sartore/Getty

Female scientists are under-represented in global research. Nature has long argued the need for initiatives to increase their opportunities and participation — so we are delighted to announce an awards programme that aims to do both.

The two annual awards will recognize inspirational early-career female researchers and those who have worked to champion young women’s and girls’ participation in science. By rewarding and celebrating these achievements, we hope the programmes will contribute to a positive shift towards the equity sorely needed in the research community.

The first is called the Inspiring Science Award and will honour female scientists who have completed their PhD within the past ten years and have made an exceptional contribution to scientific discovery, as reflected in publications, poster and conference presentations, leadership, tutoring and mentoring. Candidates can be nominated by anyone in their research institute, and we encourage nominations from around the globe and across all subject areas. Our independent judging process will ensure that those working under adverse circumstances or in regions where there is limited access to scientific literature will not be unfairly disadvantaged.

The second prize, the Innovating Science Award, recognizes individuals or organizations that have led a grass-roots initiative to support increased access to, or interest in, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for girls and young women around the globe. This backs our belief that supporting early interest in STEM worldwide is a crucial step towards sustainably increasing the representation of women in these subjects. Candidates for this award can nominate themselves.

Nominations opened on 9 April and will close on 11 June 2018. A longlist of ten nominees for each award will be announced on 24 July, and a shortlist of five will be announced on 4 September. Both awards are run by Nature Research in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies. (Full details of the criteria and nomination processes are available at

The winners of the awards will be announced in October. They will receive grants of US$10,000 to build on their efforts, and an invitation to an award ceremony. The Inspiring Science Award winner will also receive a grant of up to $5,200 to support open-access publication of their research, and the Innovating Science Award winner will receive up to $5,200 to support an event that showcases their initiative. These awards complement the existing Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science and the John Maddox Prize for promoting sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest.

Nature strives to champion and showcase the achievements of researchers, and we have a responsibility to drive positive change in the research community. Our journals are committed to supporting gender equity (see for a collection of related content). We recognize that a huge amount must be done to overcome the many barriers that women face to entry and progression in research; these awards are just one small contribution. We look forward to identifying outstanding individuals who are deserving of these awards, celebrating their achievements and sharing their stories.