Paris/March 8 – L’ORÉAL and UNESCO announced today the five Award Laureates, one from each continent, and fifteen Fellowship beneficiaries of the 2004 “For Women in Science” program.
The L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership, now in its sixth edition, is a unique example of how the private sector and an intergovernmental institution can work together to recognize the achievements of women scientists and raise the profile of women in science globally. Since the program’s creation in 1998, 91 women scientists from 45 countries across the world have been recognized for excellence in research or received encouragement to pursue their careers.
The L’OREAL-UNESCO Award Laureates, women who work across the spectrum of Life Sciences from cellular biology to immunology and disease prevention, were selected on the basis of their groundbreaking achievements and potential contributions to scientific progress. The Laureates receive individual awards of $100,000.
More than 800 prominent scientists from around the world nominated the candidates. The Award Laureates were then selected by an international jury of 15 eminent members of the scientific community, led by Christian de Duve, Nobel Prize in Medicine and Founding President of the Awards.
The 2004 Award Laureates, one from each continent, who have led scientific advances in fields as diverse as T-Cell research, agricultural productivity, neuroscience, genetics and parasitic disease, are:
• Africa – Jennifer Thomson (South Africa): “For her development of transgenic plants resistant to viral infections, drought, and other risks.”
• Asia-Pacific – Nancy Ip (China): “For her discoveries on the molecular control of growth, differentiation, and synapse formation in the nervous system.”
• Europe – Christine Petit (France): “For her elucidation of the genetic defects in hereditary deafness and other sensory disorders.”
• Latin America – Lucia Mendonça Previato (Brazil): “For her achievements in the understanding, treatment and prevention of Chagas disease.”
• North America – Philippa Marrack (USA): “For her characterization of the functions of T lymphocytes in immunity and the discovery of superantigens.”
There is a long-standing imbalance between men and women in scientific research. Women not only remain under-represented in scientific professions, but those women who do enter the field often find that they receive less support and fewer promotions than their male peers, resulting in a loss for society in general.
• According to the Greenfield Report 2002 (commissioned by the UK government), fewer than ten percent of senior scientific research positions in any country are held by women.
• The European Commission’s ETAN Expert Working Group on Women and Science reported in 2001 that women make up less than seven percent of science professors, five percent of academy members and have a very small proportion of senior scientific positions in six Member States.
• Another European Commission report this year points out that although women obtain nearly 40 percent of all PhDs (even more in the Life Sciences) in the European Union, only 15 percent of industrial researchers in Europe are women.
New research from UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics (based in Montréal, Canada) reinforces these findings by comparing the percentages of women with undergraduate, masters and postgraduate degrees in science and technology (S&T) in about 70 countries. For example, in Japan, 18 percent of S&T postgraduates are women and the figures fall to 15 percent in New Zealand compared to 38 percent in Turkey. While these low rates are the norm, there are some startling exceptions, particularly in Latin America, where women make up 60 percent of S&T postgraduates in El Salvador and 59 percent in Argentina. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001181/118131e.pdf
At the same time as the Awards, the 15 UNESCO-L’OREAL Fellows for 2004 were also announced. The Fellowship beneficiaries, promising young women scientists, receive grants of $20,000 each to support research projects that they will conduct at major academic centers around the world at the doctorate or post-doctorate level.
The UNESCO-L’ORÉAL Fellowships encourage promising young women scientists to pursue their research in laboratories outside their country of origin. The fifteen 2004 fellows (three each from these regions: Africa, Arab States, Asia & the Pacific, Europe & North America, and Latin America & the Caribbean) were chosen by the Fellowship Selection Committee in Paris from among the candidates proposed by UNESCO National Commissions.
Mauritius: Bibi Rehana Jauhangeer – Molecular Microbiology
Nigeria: Maryam Aminu – Virology
U.R. of Tanzania: Blandina Lugendo – Marine Biology
Lebanon: Ghinwa Naja – Physical Chemistry
Syrian Arab Republic: Mouna Al-Sabbagh – Biotechnology
Yemen: Salwa Hamid Al Khayat – Microbiology
Asia & the Pacific New Zealand: Diana Webster – Medical Science
Indonesia: Ines Atmosukarto – Microbiology
Pakistan: Farzana Shaheen – Chemistry
Europe & North America
Croatia: Silvia Bilokapic – Molecular Biology
Romania: Elena Luminita Bradatan – Medicine/Oncology
Turkey: Semra Aygün – Molecular Biology
Latin America & the Caribbean
Argentina: María Laura Guichón – Ecology
Mexico: Rosa Estela Navarro – Developmental Biology
Venezuela: María Teresa Abreu – Cellular Biology
In addition to the 2004 Laureates and Fellows, the program “For Women in Science” is active throughout the year. In cooperation with UNESCO National Commissions, L’Oréal subsidiaries around the world have established national initiatives as offshoots of the international program. These include national fellowships for women scientists in their countries, educational or mentoring programmes to introduce young women and girls to careers in science, as well as related conferences and seminars.
L’Oréal is the world’s number one cosmetics company, present in 130 countries worldwide. Nearly 2,900 people work in L’Oréal’s fourteen research centers in France, Asia and America, which are responsible for the registration of over 500 patents annually. 55 % are women – a percentage unmatched anywhere else in the industry.
Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has been dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting gender equality. While designing science education programmes specifically for girls, UNESCO has set up a series of academic chairs to linking women scientists around the world. The Organization is also developing new indicators to measure women's access to scientific training and to help develop appropriate policies in its 190 Member States (www.unesco.org/science/women). For further information or to arrange interviews with the laureates and fellows, please contact:
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