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Forum Addresses Gender Imbalance in Science

Media release

L’Oréal hosts fellows at inaugural Girls in Science event

August 14, 2014

Recent global statistics* confirm the world’s science community has a gender imbalance with twice as many male school leavers as females graduating with a science degree.

L’Oréal New Zealand is working to reduce the disparity by encouraging senior schoolgirls to consider science as a career.

Today’s (Aug. 14) For Girls in Science forum in Auckland is part of the L’Oréal Australia New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship programme.

More than 130 year 11 and 12 secondary schoolgirls from the Auckland region are attending the two-hour forum at the University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences in association with the Maurice Wilkins Centre.

According to L’Oréal New Zealand group corporate communications manager Tanya Abbott the aim is to inspire and demystify science as a profession for young women.

“International research conducted by The Boston Consulting Group for L’Oréal shows that only 35 per cent of girls graduating from high school go in to science as a career – and only 18 per cent will graduate. In New Zealand, we are better at 40 per cent graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science.

“The purpose of For Girls in Science is to inspire more women to take up science as a career by demystifying some of the stereotypes surrounding the profession and demonstrating the opportunities that are available within science.”

An expert panel assembled for the forum comprises the 2014 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellow Dr Elena Tucker from Melbourne and two former award recipients from New Zealand.

The forum is being chaired by University of Auckland Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, a 2007 For Women In Science Laureate. She is joined by 2012 International Fellow, Dr Zoe Hilton from the Cawthron Institute in Nelson.

The agenda includes addresses by all three distinguished panellists and information about the L’Oréal For Girls In Science and For Women in Science programmes with time for questions.

Distinguished Professor Brimble says science as a career is exciting because science is always advancing and changing. Embarking on a scientific career is like taking on an exciting new lifelong hobby.

“Science is a great career and we need more women in science at all levels; but importantly, we need women who will make a difference.”

Professor Brimble says a key message for up-and-coming female scientists at school is not to think they have to settle on a specific area of science early on.

“My advice is to study what you enjoy. You don’t need to be over-concerned about what job you are going to do at the end of your degree. Many of my students tell me that their science degree taught them logic, organisational skills and the ability to teach themselves. These skills are readily transferable to many other careers.”

*The Boston Consulting Group 2013 survey of women in science analysed 14 emerging and advanced countries, the latter including France, UK, Spain, Germany, US, Japan and China. While the share of women among science researchers in those countries had improved from 26 to 29 per cent in a decade (12 per cent increase), gender parity was still far from being reached.

* Source: The Boston Consulting Group, 2013 Women in Science, commissioned by L’Oréal For Women In Science Foundation.


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