Organization Profile: Meet 500 Women Scientists

June 19, 2024
by Taylor Houston

500 Women Scientists is a grassroots network and organization rooted in sociopolitical and scientific justice. Sparked in 2016 by the misinformation permeating the atmosphere here in the U.S., the group penned an open letter, committing to be stewards of equitable change and tangible action to get there. Since then, 500 Women Scientists has garnered the global attention of more than 20,000 fellow women in STEM and their supporters.

At the core of this organization is the power of people working together toward a common goal while celebrating each other’s unique qualities. Together, 500 Women Scientists actively make science more accessible, transparent, and inclusive. The group also works to dismantle the stigmas and practices rooted in racism, patriarchy, and other harmful social norms.

500 Women Scientists lead a multifaceted series of global initiatives that serve and connect local and transnational communities. United under the umbrella of their wide-reaching mission, the group’s programs and initiatives serve to “Change the face of science, hold institutions accountable, and build collective power.” 

Some of their most notable work includes Fellowship for the Future, highlighting women of color in STEM, wikithons for virtual groups to add and edit Wikipedia pages about women’s contributions to science, and Sci Mom Journeys to bring greater awareness and support to mothers in STEM. 500 Women Scientists also support policy changes that encourage greater diversity and inclusion efforts in institutions and communities. 

500 Women Scientists actively incorporates grassroots work into their smaller, local pods dedicated to social change. The small-scale, local networks, called Pods, inspire relevant, realistic change in their own backyards. Encouraging smaller group efforts emboldens locals with a sense of autonomy and unity as they bring about real change. 

In 2022, 500 Women Scientists received two prestigious awards for their impact, including the SXSW Community Service Award and the ABRF Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award. We are excited to see the continued impact of 500 Women Scientists and the leaders they inspire each day.