By Irene Gaitirira
Published March 25, 2016
Five leading women scientists and 15 promising young researchers have been honoured at the 18th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Ceremony.
During the occasion at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris, France on March 24, 2016, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and Chairman of the L’Oréal Foundation, launched a manifesto–For Women in Science Manifesto–aimed at supporting more women to work in the science field.
More than 2,500 researchers from 112 countries are reported to have been “distinguished for their extraordinary discoveries and supported at key moments in their careers” under the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme over the past 18 years.
“Our changing world has never been in greater need of women and their discoveries. With the For Women in Science programme, the L’Oréal Foundation is committed to promoting these women in science who will change the world,” stated Jean-Paul Agon. “We are determined to fight for science and to build a more beautiful world together.”
On her part, Irina Bokova said, “The UNESCO Science Report shows that the gender disparity is still very evident, particularly in the natural sciences. More equality and parity in the sciences means more opportunities to achieve scientific excellence, which is UNESCO’s mission.”
A 2013 report by Boston Consulting Group in 2013 estimates that women account for 30% of the world’s researchers. The report is based studies done in France, Germany, Spain, UK, USA, Japan, and urban China.
The For Women in Science Manifesto is a “campaign aimed at engaging the scientific community, the institutional and the general public to step up the pace of change for women in the sciences.”
The Manifesto asks society to: encourage girls to explore scientific career paths;
break down the barriers that prevent women scientists from pursuing long term careers in research;
prioritise women’s access to senior positions and leadership positions in the sciences;
celebrate with the general public the contribution that women scientists make to scientific progress and to society;
ensure gender equality through participation and leadership in symposiums and scientific commissions, such as conferences, committees and board meetings; and
promote mentoring and networking for young scientists to enable them to plan and develop careers that meet their expectations
Agon, Bokova led the gathering in signing the document calling upon everyone involved can work together towards gender equality in the sciences.
Elizabeth Blackburn, former Laureate and Nobel Prize winner who also chaired the Jury in 2016, each of the Laureates and International Rising Talents, as well as the guests in attendance, also signed the Manifesto.