for the

Request a Woman Scientist platform & database


This Request for Proposal is for UI/UX design, development, deployment, support, and maintenance of the 500 Women Scientists “Request a Woman Scientist” resource.  The database and platform was created and launched in January 2018 to provide a central repository of women scientists and make it easy to find an expert for collaboration, panel participation, scientific conferences, and media requests, among other potential uses. The database is populated by women scientists who volunteer to be a resource and is open to the public via the 500 Women Scientists website. The current database (Google forms) and web interface (Tableau mapping, embedded into Square Space) are stretched beyond their capacity and design. Using the data we have, we would like to build a new platform that optimizes functionality, usability, and expands our capacity to collect and display this information, including in map format and on mobile devices.

This RFP is an opportunity to build a resource that will promote gender equity in STEM.  Respondents to this RFP shall complete the submission requirements to be considered for this opportunity.


Data show that women in traditionally male-dominated fields — and particularly women who are members of underrepresented minority groups — face many conscious and unconscious biases and both overt and subtle barriers throughout their careers (and, indeed, on a typical work day). For example, when Robyn Klein, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, of neuroscience, and of pathology and immunology, asked the organizers of a 2016 neuroimmunology conference why there were only 13 women among the 85 speakers at the conference, she was told there just weren’t as many highly qualified women in the field.

Dr. Klein went out and gathered data to test if this was correct. She published a paper showing men and women in neuroimmunology have equal numbers of publications in the highest impact journals. The conference organizers invited more women based on this analysis, but the fact that Klein had to prove qualified women exist in the first place demonstrates the bias, inequalities and assumptions women in science must overcome to achieve equal representation

Beyond highlighting the problem, Klein’s study pointed to some possible solutions. She found that representation matters — when a conference organizing committee is about half women, the invited speakers are about half women. Plus, the conference committee that prompted Klein to do the study was responsive and invited more highly qualified women when the disparity was pointed out to them.

Klein’s work and similar data show the importance of highlighting unconscious bias where it exists. As a solutions-driven organization, 500 Women Scientists created the Request a Woman Scientist database to ensure that highly qualified women in STEM are easy to find for speaking engagements, media stories, collaboration opportunities, and other needs. As the database is updated and expanded, the goal is to drastically improve representation beyond women in STEM to women in medicine and provide a resource to the healthcare community.


500 Women Scientists is a global grassroots 501(c)3 organization with the mission to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible. A satellite organization 500 Women in Medicine ( is a collaborator to expand the current Request a Woman Scientist database to include women in medicine. The current platform is a database of 7500+ women scientists and is built upon free online tools (Google and Tableau), however, its growing popularity has posed a number of usability challenges including: (1) high usage has dramatically slowed database response times; (2) the database now contains thousands of women experts, making navigation difficult; (3) the free tools we have currently employed limit functionality.


The Request a Woman Scientist database and website update will include a newly built database and searchable web platform that includes both STEM and medical disciplines. The Contractor(s) will design, develop, support and maintain the database and platform to optimize usability and functionality.  This includes the following:


Women in STEM and medicine can create a profile in the database, and end-users (media members, conference organizers, etc.) can search the database for speakers that fit their specific needs. Fields include basic identifying and contact information, geographical location, availability, area(s) of expertise, specialties, and under-represented minority status (e.g., women of color, LGBTQIA, disability, and others) text-rich notes, social media profiles, and more to be determined during the project scoping phase.

The application will provide an interface for members to enter, edit and delete their personal profiles (with preview capability), with the option to create a profile with a login and ability to edit their own profiles manually.

The application will allow end-users to query, search, filter, and rate/provide feedback, providing the option to create a profile with a login to save queries.

Both members and end-users will be able to log contacts made through the database, and the system will have the capacity to send automated emails to for example remind women in STEM and medicine to update their profiles annually.

The application will include an option to receive feedback from participants and users.

The application will send an automatic email annually to remind people in the database to update their information. The email will be editable by the System Manager before sending.

End users will be able to search/query and see reports with no login, but they will have to create a login in order to save queries for future use.

The application may include a system to rank participants based on their responsiveness or a potential ranking system for users, based on their stated availability.

*** Data security and privacy is of the upmost importance

 UI/UX - Main UI/UX needs include: (a) member data entry, (b) end-user query, (c) end-user reports/output, and (d) an administrator dashboard.

The application will include a map to show where people in the database are located and the dots showing location will be color coded by defined categorization defined by the Project Team.

Filtering system will provide categories and subcategories, so that 100s of disciplines do not have to be displayed in a single dropdown menu. Upon selecting a field, subsequent dropdowns will provide greater specificity, as needed. This same category functionality will be applied on both the member profile and end-user filter side.

Outputs for end-users will be in the form of listings providing key information and contact information, exportable as a csv file.

Log/Reporting dashboard will be searchable/sortable/mappable, so reports can be generated based on geographic location, specialty (interests and abilities), or request type.

Database and Reports

Database elements will be defined during the project scoping phase and updated based on feedback from participants and users.   

The Contractor(s) will work with the Project Manager to develop a full taxonomy of science disciplines and specialties, including medical specialties and sub-specialties.

The Application Administration interface will allow new categories to be suggested by the participants and users. 

The database will be built in an open source platform such as Postgres or MySQL but password protected to allow access to administrators within the 500 Women Scientists leadership team and the project manager.

The application will allow the Program Manager to view a Log of search requests track searches for impact assessment and future platform enhancements.

 Software Development

Identity and Access Management and Authentication

The database is open and does not require log-in, but frequent users will have the option of creating a profile and the associated identity, access management, and authentication will provide login, password, password update, and user profiles that allow for queries to be saved.  Login for frequent users with Google or Facebook account is preferred.

Members can request that some contact information remains available to logged-in/qualified end users only. Additional security measures will be implemented to ensure web crawlers/bots cannot scrape the database for contact info for spammers/marketers.

Data Entry and Data Search

Data entry will be in an easy to use form interface that includes set categories and allows the user to create, edit, and delete their information

Participants will be able to select multiple categories (ex: specialties and colleges/universities)

The database search engine will be optimized for key word search

The opening search screen will show a list of search criteria such as STEM disciplines and allow for searching on sub-specialties or sub, sub-specialties. To avoid visual confusing, the interface will sequence additional sub-specialties to appear as needed instead of appearing onscreen all at once.

Search output will include a pop-up for each woman scientist who matches the query results and also a table output (csv, xls) for multiple women that match the query

The engine will allow to linking to other sites from the query results (e.g., a scientist can link to a personal web site, LinkedIn page or social media profile, or publication bibliographies in their profile)

Software Programming

Software will be developed using open source tools.  Preferred language is Python programming.

Project Manager will use the 500 Women Scientists style guide for platform development.

Application front end development should be completed using applications such as Bootstrap and jQuery, or Jango.

Software Applications Hosting

The application shall be cloud- hosted with low cost pricing for high transactions.  Data storage and performance shall be scalable.

The 500WS web site is currently hosted on Square Space. The application will need to integrate with the current web site via iFrame or as a standalone micro-site, or the Contractor will provide recommendations for how to best integrate into the existing site.

The hosting platform will provide cybersecurity protections for denial of service attacks and a disaster recovery secondary site, as well as periodic (weekly or monthly) backups of all data.

Application Cybersecurity

The application will be maintained by a system administration password that is only shared with the project manager.

The application will be built with cybersecurity in mind and programmed in a way to avoid SQL inject, spoofing of passwords (reset after 3 attempts), and other known hacks.

Training and ongoing support

Sufficient training will be provided to 500WS administrators that they feel confident with basic ongoing administration of the database.

Using a retainer or pay-for-services model, support will be provided on an ongoing basis for support or requests for updates for the application. A separate contract/terms will be developed for this purpose as the application project nears final deployment.

Contractor will be available to address emergency issues (site outage, hack, privacy breach) on-call under the terms of the contract mentioned above.

Contractor will available to address non-emergency issues (features requests, minor bugs) and will respond to requests under terms to be defined in the contract above.

Data Exchange

The 500 Women Scientists Request a Woman Scientist platform already hosts 7500+ profiles of women in STEM and will need to be integrated into the newly developed database and platform.


The Contractor will complete the following:

            Phase 1:  Project Scoping and Requirements

                        Define the system functionality requirements and use cases

                        Define the database structure and categories

            Phase 2:  Design

                        Design the User Interface

                        Design the query screens and result pages

                        Design output reports

            Phase 3:  Development and Test

                        Build the database

            Phase 4:  Launch

                        Install the Test/Dev and Production environments in a commercial hosted environment     

            Phase 5:  Support and Maintenance

                        Provide user support via email for user questions

                        Maintain the application on the most current versions of software

                        Provide daily database backups and restores as needed

Assist in setting up an interactive WebEx/TC discussion forum


Proposals shall be prepared simply and economically, providing a straightforward, concise description of all required information.  500 Women Scientists is not responsible to the Respondent for the cost of preparing the proposal.

Proposals will be evaluated in two phases; the first based on the technical approach and qualifications and secondly on the price submittals. The first phase will be evaluated based on the following criteria listed in order of importance:

  • Demonstrated understanding of methodologies and techniques in performing services in accordance with these specifications;

  • Qualifications and technical competence of the staff based on résumés in accordance with these specifications;

  • Documented experience related to assessing software design, development, and management services;

  • Experience providing services similar to the projects to other clients;

  • Completeness of proposal; proposed project schedule and price.

After identifying the short list of the most qualified Contractor(s) based on the evaluation criteria, representative(s) may be required to clarify their proposals by making individual presentations to the evaluation committee. 500 Women Scientists as an organization is committed to diversity and inclusion, which is foundational to work inside and outside our organization. Creating broader access and helping historically under-represented groups compete for opportunities isn’t just about social responsibility and meeting our mission - it also helps us ensure that the tools we build reach the biggest possible audience. We encourage proposals from people from under-represented backgrounds.

The 500 Women Scientists team may enter into negotiations with Contractor(s) and invite best and final offers as deemed to be in the best interest of the HOC. Negotiations may be in the form of face to-face, telephone, e-mail or written communications, or any combination thereof, at the Project Team’s sole discretion.

Following the submittal of proposals, Contractors are strongly cautioned not to contact members of the evaluation committee regarding the selection process. Inappropriate efforts to lobby or influence individuals or Contractors involved in this selection may result in dismissal from further consideration, at the Project Manager’s sole discretion.


Respondents to this RFP will provide the following information:

  1. Description of the Contractor’s project approach and the services that will be provided.

  2. Description of the proposed software application development environment including the design methods, software tools that will be used, testing approach and hosting environments (test, production and disaster recovery).

  3. A work plan showing the time frame and general tasks for each phase.

  4. Description of the training, support and application maintenance that will be provided.

  5. Description of the project team and how the project will be coordinated with WIS&M

  6. Summary of the cost by phase.

  7. Reference from three clients where the Contractor developed a similar system.

  8. Description of the risks to the project and how the Contractor will help mitigate the risk.

SUBMIT PROPOSALS BY March 15, 2019 – email to


Invoices shall be submitted to the 500 Women Scientists team for the deliverables that have been approved and accepted.  Invoices submitted and approved shall be paid within 30 days of receipt.  Deliverables include:

·      25%           Requirements definition and UI Design

·      25%           Development

·      20%           Testing completed

·      30%           Application Accepted

Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash