Female scientists receive majority of awards at the 2021 Eureka Prizes

Female scientists receive majority of awards at the 2021 Eureka Prizes

Women in science have cleaned up at this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, winning 10 out of the 16 awards.

The Eureka Prizes are awarded annually for excellence in the categories of science leadership, research and innovation, science engagement, and school science.

Described as the Oscars of Australian science, the Eureka’s have been celebrating science for over three decades and women are finally starting to step into the spotlight. On Thursday night the 2021 winners were announced. 

Eureka Prize
Image: University of Queensland

This year’s winner of the prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science was Dr. Dana Bergstrom. Bergstrom is an ecologist with the Australian Antarctic Division and led a project called Aliens in Antarctica. The project involved 23 nations and strove to protect the continent from ecological damage caused by introduced species.

Bergstrom highlighted her delight that her fellow finalists in the category were all women:

It’s really important to see that there are women leaders in science and that we are having an impact,” she said. “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”

The prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research was awarded to Lindell Bromham, Felicity Meakins, Xia Hua, and Cassandra Algy for their work on Indigenous language. The team consists of an Indigenous community member, linguist, mathematician, and biologist, to study Guringji, an Indigenous language of northern Australia. Their research involved developing new ways to understand language change and the factors that help to keep Indigenous languages strong and vibrant.

Corey Tutt and DeadlyScience took out the gong for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources prize for STEM inclusion.

Tutt, a Kamilaroi man, founded DeadlyScience to “help Aboriginal kids to get into science, because… not everyone has a straight path”.

DeadlyScience provides STEM resources and mentoring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Tutt taps into the same idea that drives Bergstrom – “you can’t be what you can’t see,”.

“It’s like we consciously told these kids that science wasn’t for them because of their heritage and social background,” Tutt said.

Together Tutt and DeadlyScience have provided thousands of culturally appropriate science resources to schools in remote communities and connected nearly 10,000 young Indigenous people with mentors.

Check out the full list of winners here.