Mary Somerville, Marie Curie, Maria Mitchell, Lise Meitner, Barbara McClintock, Dorothy Hodgkin, Rosalind Franklin, Rachel Carson, Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper… and the list goes on. While Marie Curie continues to dominate the conversation about the women who dedicated their lives to science, there have been and there still are many brilliant women who have pursued science over the years. However, according to the #ChangeTheNumbers campaign launched in 2016, women in science are faced with many challenges and prejudices. The lack of encouragement women and girls receive is best reflected in the numbers, with 89% of the survey’s respondents said that women are suitable for ‘anything but science’. Today, less than 30% of students in the core sciences are women. The underrepresentation of women scientists called for an advocating programme that would encourage young girls to consider science as a future path and award women who have made significant contribution to scientific innovation and science in general. The lack of support and management provided for women in sciences is area that L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Programme seeks to address- a programme that changed the way women in science are perceived in today’s world.
The For Women in Science programme has been created in 1998. L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO partnered to promote two major initiatives- to distinguish eminent women at the height of their scientific careers and to support the work of young women scientist through doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships. Today, over 2795 women have been recognized in more than 115 countries in five geographic regions: Africa and Arab States, Asia (including Oceania and Pacific), Europe, Latin America and North America (Canada and USA). In 2009, two of the 2008 L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards Laureates received a Nobel Prize in their field of expertise: Elizabeth Blackburn in Medicine or Physiology and Ada Yonath in Chemistry.
Empower. Inform. Support. Accompany. Change perceptions. These are the convictions and core values that guide the L’Oréal Foundation’s commitment to women throughout the world, proving beauty can come with a cause.
L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Programme Awards are awarded each year between Physical and Life Sciences. The 2017 awards recognized five outstanding female scientists who have made significant contribution to research in the Life Sciences. On March 8th, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the 2017 Laureates were announced and, please note that these are the names to be remembered:
1. Africa and Arab States- Professor Niveen M. KHASHAB for designing novel nanoparticles that could improve early detection of disease. Her work in analytical chemistry could lead to more targeted and personalized medical treatment.
2. Asia Pacific- Professor Michelle SIMMONS for pioneering ultra-fast quantum computers. Her work on atomic-scale transistors could give birth to tomorrow’s computers.
3. Europe- Professor Nicola A. SPALDIN for reinventing magnetic materials for next-generation electronic devices. Her research on multiferroic materials could lead to a new generation of electronic equipment components.
4. Latin America- Professor Maria Teresa RUIZ for discovering a new type of celestial body, halfway between a star and a planet, hidden in the darkness of the universe. Her observations on brown dwarfs could answer the universal question of whether there is life on other planets.
5. North America- Professor Zhenan BAO for inventing skin-inspired electronic materials. Her research on flexible, stretchable and conductive materials could improve the quality of life of patients with prostheses.
150 years after Marie Curie’s death, only 28% of researches and only 3% of Scientific Nobel Prizes are awarded to women. This programme empowers women scientists to strengthen their commitment and their impact on society. As role models for future generation of young girls, these brilliant women illustrate the remarkable contributions that women can bring to science. They push the boundaries and make groundbreaking discoveries that reshape the world we live in. Why? Because both you and I are worth it!
Photo Credit: L’Oréal Foundation