The world needs science and science needs women
Friday 6 July 2007
The first “L’Oréal UK Fellowships for Women in Science” are awarded
Last night, L’Oréal announced the winners of the first UK Fellowships For Women In Science. At a ceremony in central London, four outstanding female scientists were awarded fellowships of £10,000 to further their research careers.
Designed to promote the vital importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science, the awards are run in partnership with the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.
Women are still critically underrepresented in science professions, making up only 19% of the UK’s total science, engineering and technology (SET) workforce (Source - www.setwomenresource.org.uk ). Within the upper levels of science, women constitute an even greater minority, holding just 6% of professorships (Source - HESA, 2007).
Baroness Susan Greenfield, the first female Director of the Royal Institution and chair of the L’Oréal For Women In Science jury panel commented:
“We are entering an era where science and technology are at the centre of society. We need the brightest and the best to tackle some of the biggest problems that face society, not least pressing environmental and medical challenges.
“It’s crazy to eliminate 50% of the talent. It’s also crazy to invest in educating and training people and then ignore them and their talent in later life.”
It is estimated that approximately 50,000 women with SET qualifications are not working in these sectors (Source - Maximising Returns, DTI, 2002). Many women leave each year, often due to maternity leave, and do not return to pursue a career in science.
In view of this, the L’Oréal fellowships have been designed to be totally flexible. Winners may choose to spend their fellowship award on paying for childcare costs, or buying an assistant’s time – whatever enables them to continue with their research in a way that suits them.
Sophie Gasperment, L’Oréal UK Managing Director, said last night:
“Tonight’s event was incredibly inspiring for everyone involved. I’m delighted that, in conjunction with our partners, we are able to help further the careers of some exceptional young female scientists and raise awareness of this crucial issue.”