Editor’s Update: The application period is now closed. We announced the 2021 winners in December.

The Story Exchange, an award-winning nonprofit media organization dedicated to elevating women’s voices, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize.

The cash prize will support U.S.-based women working to find innovative, science-based solutions in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This year, the focus is on women leading efforts in water. A total of 5 recipients will be awarded $5,000 each and potential media coverage via The Story Exchange, which produces videos, articles and podcasts for entrepreneurial women. Finalists will be selected by a panel of judges following a rigorous scientific review and based on an assessment by The Story Exchange editors.

“The barriers faced by women in STEM have been well-documented,” said Sue Williams, Executive Director of The Story Exchange. “With this prize, The Story Exchange aims to support early career women who have faced these challenges and are pursuing innovative work, despite these hurdles.”

The U.S. is facing a growing water emergency – pollution, global warming, storms, droughts and decaying infrastructure are all colliding to make it more urgent than ever to address the threats to our water resources through innovative science and technology.

Eligible candidates for the Women In Science Incentive Prize will be scientists with advanced degrees in the fields of physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, environmental science or closely related fields; or entrepreneurs with advanced degrees who are creating science-based products and technology to help mitigate/reduce the impact of climate change.

Successful applicants will be addressing the water crisis through one of the following areas:

  • monitoring use – quantity and/or quality; impact of contaminants and pollution
  • distribution efficiency and/or reuse – in industrial, agriculture or urban settings
  • conservation – in the face of drought, floods and shrinking water tables
Women in STEM fields have long faced discrimination. (Photo credit: Science in HD on Unsplash)

Application Process

The Story Exchange is requesting preliminary applications in advance of full applications to increase the overall quality of submissions and assist staff and judges in managing the review process. A subset of applicants will be invited to submit full applications. Winners will be announced in December.

The following is the timetable and list of requirements:

July 31, 2021: Preliminary applications are due. Applications must provide a CV and statement (maximum 800 words) describing their work and professional goals, including impact; and intended use of funds. Applicants must also provide a statement (maximum 500 words) about their personal story, including biggest personal/professional challenges. The Story Exchange is committed to including diverse voices and perspectives and welcomes applications from the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.

Sept. 7, 2021: Semi-finalists will be invited to submit a full application.

Oct. 15, 2021: Full applications are due. Applicants must provide a statement (maximum 1,500 words) describing scientific objectives and environmental impact of their research or startup; feasibility of the methods to address the water crisis; and a clear and succinct description of scientific evidence supporting the proposed research or business. Candidates must also submit a letter of recommendation from an external person familiar with their work and qualifications.

December 2021: Winners will be announced.

“We are thrilled to be investing in women in science at a time when the world needs their unique perspectives the most,” said Victoria Wang, co-founder of The Story Exchange. “It’s discouraging to see how women scientists have been treated in the past, but it’s encouraging to see how women are making great strides in the increasingly urgent field of climate change.”

The Story Exchange, an independent 501(c)(3) newsroom founded in 2011, has won recognition for its editorial projects from the Newswomen Club of New York, the Society of Advancing Business Editing and Writing, and the Gerald Loeb Awards.