Athena Award

The NWO Domain Science hands out five special scientific awards. These awards recognise the achievements of scientists in various areas of scientific research. There is an award for inspirational teamwork (Team Science Award), an award for science communication for a wider audience (Communication Award), an award to foster diversity (Diversity Initiative Award and Athena Award) and an award for the societal impact of scientific results (Stairway to Impact Award). The awards are intended to reward scientists who have contributed in these areas and to inspire others to do the same. All disciplines in the Science domain are eligible for these awards.

The Athena Award rewards female researchers that stand out, and because of that are role models for others. Role models are important for female researchers who are starting their careers. These role models demonstrate that a career in science is possible.

What for?

Diversity and inclusion are important for the quality of science and the impact of science on society. In the Netherlands, the percentage of women working in (natural) sciences is low. This percentage is even lower in more senior positions: only 16% of professors in (natural) science disciplines is female (source: LNVH Monitor Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren 2019).

Through the Athena Award, the NWO Domain Science wants to place female role models working in (natural) scientific disciplines in the spotlight. Role models are important for female researchers who are starting their careers. These role models demonstrate that a career in science is possible.

Who can submit a nomination?

Anyone can submit one or more nominations. However, it is not possible to nominate yourself for the Athena Award.

What could the nominees win?

The Athena Award is a sum of 50k. Recipients have ample freedom when it comes to spending this sum, as long as it is used to contribute to the research of the laureate.

When can nominations be submitted?

Nominations must be received by NWO by 30 June 2020, 12:00 CE(S)T (

How can nominations be submitted?

The nomination must include the following sections:

  1. The cover page, which can be downloaded under ‘Related documents’.
  2. The nomination itself, the nominator must comply with the assessment criteria mentioned in the brochure.
  3. Supporting documentation, such as short narrative CVs of the nominees containing information relevant to the award and any supporting letters from third parties. Please do not exceed 5 pages for the supporting documentation.

The nominations must be written in English. See the brochure for more information.

Assessment procedure


Applications are assessed according to the following criteria:

  • The nominee is an example / source of inspiration for young researchers who aspire to a career in science;
  • The nominee stands out through her scientific achievements. The emphasis is on the quality of the research, but other aspects are also considered, such as the impact of the research, leadership, teaching skills and outreach and/or science communication.


The nominations are assessed in relation to the criteria by a committee. The Board of NWO Domain Science will make the decision regarding the winners. More details are given in the brochure.

Related documents


Open for nominations

Deadline for nominations:

30 June 2020, 12:00 CE(S)T


50k€ per winner


Dr. Silke Diedenhofen Dr. Silke Diedenhofen +31 (0)70 34 94 261


Dr. Eveline Mezger Dr. Eveline Mezger +31 (0)70 3494206