Building peace in the minds of men and women

Five exceptional women scientists receive the L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science awards

14 March 2019

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© UNESCO / C. Alix

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, and Jean Paul Agon, President and CEO of L'Oréal and President of the L'Oréal Foundation, presented the L'Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women and Science to five women scientists at a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Fifteen promising young researchers, representing the future of science, were also honored as " International Rising Talents".

Throughout history and to this day, science is one of the many areas where women are largely forgotten” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay. “This contributes to perpetuate inequalities between women and men. UNESCO is fully committed to meeting this major challenge, by working across the entire chain from education to collective representation. Education comes first, the bedrock of all possibilities, giving priority to the education of girls and women, and fighting against inequalities in our education systems as early as possible.

Najat Aoun Saliba, Maki Kawai, Karen Hallberg, Ingrid Daubechies and Claire Voisin received the award for their outstanding work in analytical and atmospheric chemistry; surface science; the physics of condensed matter; digital processing of images and signals; and algebraic geometry.

Ingrid Daubechies and Claire Voisin are the first mathematicians to receive this award, following the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO’s decision to reinforce their efforts to empower women in science by extending the International Awards dedicated to material science to two more research areas: mathematics and computer science.

"Science concerns humanity as a whole," said Jean Paul Agon. "Giving women their rightful place in science and society means giving the world a real chance to effectively address the major challenges of health, climate change and artificial intelligence. Taking into account the gender perspective is essential for a science that is beneficial to all. "

This edition marks the 21st anniversary of a fruitful partnership to support women and address gender biases in science.

Science remains one of many areas often perceived worldwide as men’s work alone. These social representations conceal a significant part of the history of science; furthermore, by simply denying girls and women such female role models of scientific achievement, they also perpetuate gender inequality in the access to these fields of study and careers. Women currently represent only 30 per cent of the world’s scientific researchers. The issue of women in science is at the heart of the partnership between UNESCO and the Fondation L’Oréal: it is an exceptional example of long-term collaboration, which seeks to acknowledge, encourage and support the work of new generations of women scientists.

 

L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science awards: the 2019 Laureates

AFRICA AND THE ARAB STATES

Professor Najat Aoun SALIBA – Analytical and atmospheric chemistry

 

ASIA PACIFIC

Professeur Maki KAWAI Chemistry / Catalysis

 

LATIN AMERICA

Professor Karen HALLBERG – Physics/ Condensed matter physics

 

NORTH AMERICA

Professor Ingrid DAUBECHIES – Mathematics / Mathematical physics

 

EUROPE

Professor Claire VOISIN – Mathematics / Algebraic geometry