Women in science, why so few ?

Figures that leave no doubt:

• only 28% of researchers worldwide are women

• only 3% of Nobel prizes are  awarded to women

• only 26% of women are researchers in France

A rare exception worth mentionning: Bolivia with its 63%  women researchers!

Despite the fact that more women than men today achieve high level education, women are largely underrepresented in scientific fields.

How to explain this "disenchantment" of women for science?

Women have accumulated centuries of lag behind men in terms of access to academic education. When they were finally able to access it certain, so-called noble subject matters were not taught to women. Thus, after centuries of women consigned to running" the home and the family, came a form of education, not an intellectual education but one intended to make them perfect wives, loving and occasionally, entertainers for their husband in society. Another reason that explains the gap is anchored in cultural conditioning, one which dictates that maths and sciences are for boys, and that other activities, even extra-curricular ones, are more for girls...         

They beat the odds…

Yet there are women scientists who have made or contributed to the great scientific discoveries of this world. A few examples:

The famous Marie Curie (1st woman to have received the Nobel Prize, only woman with 2 Nobel Prizes and the only woman to be rewarded in two different scientific fields). Her belief: "In life, nothing is to be feared, everything is to be understood" and her vision of science: "I am among those who think that science has great beauty". These show the passion, deep and total commitment of Marie Curie in science and its disciplines, and lead to the discovery of radioactivity, radium and polonium, and the determination of the atomic mass of radium. Marie Curie was also the first female professor at the Sorbonne. Several tributes are paid to her in France and in Poland in particular: Monuments, effigy on coins and banknotes, films, etc ...

Other noteworthy female scientists :

Rosalind Francklin (worked on the structure of DNA and the structure of viruses)

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the AIDS virus (co-laureate with Montagnier),

Lise Meitner (Discovery of nuclear fission)

Esther Lederberg (decisive findings on mating bacteria)

• And so many others ...

The gap is narrowing, thankfully

Times have certainly changed, but prejudices have a hard skin! According to a study commissioned by the L'Oréal-Unesco Foundation, 67% of Europeans judge that women's abilities for high-level sciences are lower than those of their male counterparts.

Initiatives exist throughout the world to, among other things, encourage girls to move towards scientific and technical studies, to promote women in the scientific community, especially mathematics.

Here are some the initiatives that have been taken:

• The l'Oréal-Unesco Foundation for Women and Science: an international program created in 1998 and present in more than 48 countries. Each year, it awards scholarships to 30 doctoral students and post-doctoral students in order to accompany them in their careers, to support their research work and give them the visibility they deserve.

Women & Mathematics Association, created in 2000 by a group of women scientists from around the world.

• The Elsevier Foundation Award for young women scientists in developing countries

What are companies doing?

Give equal chances to women, put the parity in motion! As an actor in the chemical industry, SALVECO gives a huge place to women in its workforce, with more than 50% of women in R & D! Might that be the explanation for the highly innovative and preformat solutions SALVECO’s has developed for the hygiene and cleaning industry ?