Encouraging the next generation of female scientists

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The L’Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science (FWIS) programme was founded fifteen years ago by L’Oréal and UNESCO, on the premise that ‘the world needs science and science needs women’. The International Laureate Award offers $100,000 to five female scientists, one from each continent, in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of science. Since starting, 77 Laureates (two of which have since won Nobel Prizes), and 1,652 Fellows have been awarded. The L’Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland programme was launched in 2007, and is one of 46 National Programmes. Four fellowships of £15,000 are offered to outstanding postdoctoral-researchers each year.

• To date, over 1,700 women in 108 countries have benefited from fellowships with $7.5m awarded to Laureates, $4.8m to International fellows and an estimated $27m to National fellows, equating to nearly $40m to support female scientists
• The programme is a key component in allowing female scientists to progress their research
• It has encouraged the issue onto the public agenda through global publicity, with applications up 20-30% in the last two years
• The campaign reached 17.8 million UK adults in 2012 with global coverage positioning L’Oréal at the forefront of scientific development and demonstrating L’Oréal’s responsibility in encouraging women into science.

L’Oréal is more than just a world-leading beauty company; it is a company with science at its heart. Founded by a chemist, today we employ over 3.5k scientists world-wide. We take our industry-leading position seriously and wanted to use our profile and scale to make a difference, raising the profile of women in science.
We recognised the lack of women represented in science and so developed FWIS in partnership with UNESCO. The programme’s aim remains the same 15 years on: to make a real and tangible contribution, raising awareness of women scientists’ work, and ultimately close the gender gap[/one_half_last]

The scientific work of the women involved in FWIS is a key component of the programme. To build public awareness of FWIS and the women in science issue, we needed to build a campaign that was easily understandable and digestible for the general public. Our key learning and challenge is how to communicate complicated scientific discoveries in “layman’s” terms to the public and promote this in the mainstream media. Helping the public understand that science is at the heart of everything around them, and that continued scientific discovery holds the key to many of our current global issues is key.

We believe we can make a real impact in encouraging women into science. Fellow Dr. Whitney from Bristol University said: “I’ve done things I would never have dared done before, such as speaking at the Cheltenham Festival, a Government Science Conference and even a TedEx. This led to me being offered a permanent position”.
Besides influencing stakeholders, FWIS allowed L’Oréal to form links to the scientific community, receiving prestigious recognition of its efforts from stakeholders, whilst engaging its workforce. Last year L’Oréal UK was invited to join the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and is the only cosmetics company involved.[/one_half_last] Speaker
Katy Gandon
Head of External Affairs
L’Oreal (UK) Ltd.