Association for Women in Science Announces Top Awards for STEM and Gender Equity Champions

Apr 12, 2018 | Press Release


Maria Ibañez

Association for Women in Science Announces Top Awards for STEM
and Gender Equity Champions
Leaders from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation,
Salesforce and Caribou Biosciences among awardees

WASHINGTON, DC, April 12, 2018 – The Association for Women in Science (AWIS), the leading organization advocating for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), announces the recipients of its Pinnacle, Leadership, Game Changer and Next Generation awards at the 2018 Innovation and Inclusion: Women at the Forefront of STEM Summit and Awards Dinner on April 25, in San Francisco, California. The AWIS awards recognize individuals, companies and organizations who are trailblazers making significant contributions to increasing workplace diversity, promoting women in leadership positions and advocating for more inclusive practices in STEM. Follow the Summit conversation on Twitter at #AWISWomenLead.

“Now more than ever, it is vital to recognize those working towards positive systemic change in the STEM industry. Our research shows that gender and racial gaps remain, and it is preventing women entrepreneurs in all disciplines of STEM from achieving long term success,” said Janet Bandows Koster, Executive Director and CEO, AWIS. Our awardees have dedicated their lives to creating positive social change while contributing to the field of STEM. We commend the great strides they have made towards encouraging gender parity and diversity in STEM.”

AWIS research has shown that gender parity and diversity is lacking across all STEM disciplines and employment sectors. “Revolutionizing the STEM Entrepreneurship Ecosystem” is a new AWIS report that identifies actionable evidence on how the industry can effectively address both the absence of diversity and lack of funding and resources for women STEM entrepreneurs. Less than four percent of venture capital is awarded to women and less than one percent to women of color. The research draws on findings from AWIS’ STEM to Market two-part program that galvanizes inclusive and productive STEM entrepreneurial ecosystems. The program is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The AWIS report will be released at the April 25 Summit.

“Promoting greater workplace diversity—including diversity of thought—is the smart thing to do for business, corporate culture, academia and overall progress in STEM,” said Bahija Jallal, PhD, AWIS National Governing Board President, and President of MedImmune and Executive Vice President of AstraZeneca. “At AWIS, we are thrilled to celebrate these bold leaders who are committed to advocating for gender equity, promoting diversity and creating opportunities for the advancement of individuals at all levels of STEM.”

The AWIS award recipients include:

  • Sue Desmond-Hellmann: AWIS Pinnacle Award. Honoring an individual’s lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and commitment to workplace diversity.

“I am honored to receive the Pinnacle Award from AWIS, an extraordinary organization I admire greatly for its work and advocacy for women in STEM,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “AWIS is a catalyst for change and committed to inspiring and supporting innovation to help the next generation of women scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians fulfill their potential.”  

  • Melinda Richter: AWIS Leadership Award. Commending an experienced STEM leader for fostering a high representation of women in leadership and supportive workplace policies.

“We thank the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) for this recognition of our work with emerging businesses, researchers, and entrepreneurs to support gender equity, access to resources, and a diversity of ideas in pursuit of the goal of making a difference for patients all over the world. I have seen firsthand the impact of women in the science industry and I look forward to working in tandem with AWIS to continue to advance biotech and healthcare across all STEM fields and employment sectors,” said Melinda Richter, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS.

  • Tony Prophet: AWIS Game Changer Award. Recognizing an exemplary company whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent a true ally to the pursuit of workplace equality.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) for our efforts to drive equality for all,” said Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce. “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made—from creating a culture of allies to ensuring all of our employees are paid equally for equal work—but there is much more work to be done.”

  • Rachel Haurwitz: AWIS Next Generation Award. Highlighting an early career leader in STEM who is a visible and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.

“I am honored to have received this recognition from the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). AWIS is a global leader in driving excellence in STEM through its research, advocacy, talent recruitment, and professional development. I look forward to working with AWIS to advance their mission in pursuit of gender equity, access to entrepreneurship opportunities, and diversity in all STEM fields across the country,” said Rachel Haurwitz, Co-Founder, President and CEO, Caribou Biosciences.




About AWIS:
The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. To learn more, visit and and follow @AWISNational and @stemtomarket on Twitter and Facebook.



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