#Opinion

Man’s Nomination For Women In Technology Award Sparks Confusion And Outrage

Man Nominated Women In Technology Award
An award from Women in Technology for inspiring diversity in STEM has come down to four finalists, three women who have made contributions toward achieving inclusion and equality in STEM, and a man. Why? Because nothing says female empowerment and diversity like awarding men for not being sexist. While it is important to celebrate people’s accomplishments, not being sexist and supporting women as a man in STEM is not an award-worthy achievement. In fact, not being sexist is the bare minimum that should be expected from everyone. Isn’t it?

A scene from a sitcom of a man being nominated for a female empowerment award has turned into reality. In the sitcom Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson was awarded a female empowerment award and was titled Woman of the Year. The plot aimed to poke fun at the politics behind awards. However, the Women in Technology organisation decided to nominate a man for an award for empowering women and inspiring diversity and netizens can’t help but compare the situation to the sitcom.

The man being named a finalist in a Women in Technology (WIT) award has raised a few eyebrows. He was nominated for the Inspiring Diversity in STEM award for empowering women.

Women in Technology is an organisation that aims to empower women in technology and life sciences. They introduced a new award to recognise the people who champion diversity, inclusion and equality in STEM, regardless of gender, age and background.

Man Nominated Women In Technology Award

Simon Button was nominated for the award and is one of four finalists for his work in “inspiring diversity in STEM”. The other finalists include Professor Kym Rae, a physically disabled Research Fellow in Indigenous Health, Professor Amy Mullens, a psychologist with an interest in marginalised communities, and Dr Jyoti Sharma, a pharmaceutical researcher.

According to Women in Technology, the chief technology officer at Qscan Group, Simon Button is a leader and champion of diversity and equity in the organisations he leads. Button has an impressive career and is the founding director of Hummingbird House Foundation, a non-profit that supports children with life-limiting illnesses.


Suggested Reading: The STEM Gap: Why We Need To Act Now


While Button’s contributions are impressive, one user pointed out that the three other finalists had “actually” helped women in tech. Examples of their work that helped women and marginalised people were cited. However, for Button, the description only claimed he was a champion of diversity and it is unclear what made Button a champion of diversity. Does simply not being sexist make a person a “champion of diversity”? What were his contributions? Netizens remain confused about what made him a “champion of diversity” and the organisation made no move to clear up the confusion.

According to the description provided by Women in Technology about the finalists, all of the female finalists were well qualified for the award, while none of Button’s contributions towards improving the lives of women and the marginalised were mentioned. The omission of Button’s work towards “inspiring diversity” is sparse.

One person commented on the nomination and summed up their emotions in one word, “NOPE!”

Finalists For Women In Technology Award

The list of finalists mentioned that the female nominees had taken steps to improve the lives of women and marginalised people in STEM.

Professor Amy Mullens dedicated her career to improving the well-being of marginalised communities through advocacy, research, clinical practice and leadership.

Professor Kym Rae worked in health research to help Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander families have a right to accessible and affordable health care. As a physically disabled woman, Rae maintains that it is important for her to be “visible in the STEM field” and show women with disabilities that is possible to attain leadership positions.

Dr Jyothi Sharma has formulated schemes for female researchers and people from lower socioeconomic and culturally diverse backgrounds. She has facilitated more than 4,000 female scientists and hundreds of students in science and technology areas across the world.

With highly qualified women who had actively worked towards improving the lives of women and marginalised groups, it’s confusing to see why a man was nominated for the same award from an organisation named Women in Technology.

People believed that Button was being rewarded for doing the bare minimum as the organisation said that Button had helped “inspire diversity” in the field but did not tell readers how he had managed to do the same. Thus, people are still confused.

Wouldn’t it be more inspiring for women to see a woman receive an award for her contributions rather than a man? The female finalists for the award had diverse goals when it came to empowerment and inspiring diversity, and each of them had worked toward their goal. There is no shortage of smart talented women working towards supporting diversity, so why not take the opportunity to shine a light on female talent?