A World-Class Celebration
A few words on the significance of The Power List 2020
Matt Hallam | | Opinion
It’s the Power List, but not as we know it…
Allow me to introduce “Around the World in 60 Scientists” – a Power List that shares the stories of 10 leading analytical minds from each of our planet’s major continents. Our rationale: to disrupt the status quo of previous lists, which have been heavily skewed towards Europe and North America.
After all, the analytical community is much more than the scientists operating in these regions. It’s a diverse collection of gifted individuals working tirelessly towards a common goal: to improve the condition of our species, one analysis at a time.
Our 2020 List celebrates this diversity and boasts many new names, which is no surprise when you crunch the associated numbers. Of note, 55 percent of nominations in 2019 were for European scientists; this year that number was around 30 percent. We also received just one nomination for scientists in Africa in 2019, but we hit 13 percent in 2020. Interestingly, the change in emphasis also affected the diversity of nominations for Europe and North America.
As last year’s Number One Jonathan Sweedler says: “Potential biases are not unique to the Power List and, unfortunately, they can influence many forms of scientific recognition. As a discipline, we need to do better.” I wholeheartedly agree with Jonathan, and I’m extremely happy with what we’ve accomplished.
But that’s not to say it was without its challenges – nor is it to say the List is definitive (something we make clear every year). As always, those on the List had to be nominated by our readers – and nominations for some continents came much more readily than others (which led to some intense networking by yours’ truly). Next came the challenge of obtaining responses from analytical scientists operating across the globe during a pandemic – no small feat, but the new friends we made along the way were more than worth the effort!
Increasing the visibility of underrepresented groups is important. As American civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” I cannot think of a more apt way to celebrate “power” in analytical science than by providing a platform to more evenly distribute it. In this sense, perhaps our 2020 List is more powerful than its predecessors... Whatever your thoughts (do let me know), I hope you enjoy reading the insightful, thoughtful, and sometimes quirky responses from our 60 sensational scientists.