Six promising young researchers coming from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine were honoured yesterday, October 10, 2018, during the 5th edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Levant Regional Ceremony at Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA) in Beirut
The ceremony was held under the patronage, of His Excellency Minister of Education and Higher Education Mr. Marwan Hamadeh represented by the Director General of Education, Mr. Fadi Yarak, and attended by more than 200 guests amongst whom were politicians, diplomats, representatives of academic and scientific institutions, NGOs and media.
Since 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has aimed to ensure that scientific research, no matter the field, is also an outcome of the intelligence, creativity and passion of women around the world.
To date, the program has supported 3,124 women, rewarding 102 laureates and granting 3,022 doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships in 117 countries. All have gained increased visibility, career opportunities and have enhanced their self-confidence in their respective fields. Three of the laureates – Ada Yonath, Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard – have won Nobel Prizes in science.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Yarak said: “By honoring women scientists in the Arab world, the program recognizes their contribution and commitment to research. We express our gratitude and appreciation to L’Oréal-UNESCO for setting the stage for female pioneers in science for the past 20 years, and we wholeheartedly congratulate the brilliant six scientists who have earned these fellowships. We are confident that they will contribute to the resolve of the great challenges that are currently endangering humanity and that they will continue to inspire young girls to pursue careers in science.”
UNDER-REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN POSES QUALITY ISSUES IN RESEARCH
Over the past 20 years, the percentage of women working in science has increased by about 12%, but it remains too low: less than 30% of researchers are women. The glass ceiling still exists; women hold only 11 % of academic leadership positions. And only 3% of Nobel Prizes for Science have ever been awarded to women. This under-representation of women impacts the very quality of scientific research.
“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,” explained Professor Henri Awit, President of the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO
A COALITION OF ALLIES TO CHANGE THE FACE OF SCIENCE
To encourage collaboration between women and men, the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO launched on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the program, a new initiative called “Male Champions for Women in Science”. Male scientists were invited to sign a Charter of clear and measurable Commitments with the following objectives:
- Promoting access to research funding for women
- Providing equal recruitment opportunities
- Striving to achieve a better balance in publications and copyrights.
“L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has made great strides in helping women to gain recognition within the scientific community, but empowering women scientists is not uniquely a challenge for like-minded women and progressive organizations. It is in the interest of everyone to change mindsets and transform systems if we are to create an inclusive and sustainable world for all of us”, said Doctor Philippe Patsalides, Managing Director of L’Oreal Levant. “Women and men have a role to play”, he added.
THE 2018 FELLOWS: EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN IN SCIENCE
Six promising female scientists were selected among more than 100 candidates this year. They are the very future of science and recognizing their excellence will help ensure that they reach their full potential.
Dr. Mouin Hamzé, Secretary General of the National Council for Scientific Research-Lebanon and President of the jury, said: I wish to pay tribute to the fellows of the 2018 edition. Once again, this year, they astonished and surprised all jury members. Each fellow has been recognized for excellence in her respective field of expertise – from physics to environmental engineering, to molecular biology – and they are an inspiration to future generations of scientists.”
The 2018 fellows are: