20 years ago, L'Oréal and UNESCO founded the For Women in Science programme to promote and highlight the critical importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science.
Each year, the programme recognises the achievements of exceptional female scientists across the globe and awards them with Fellowships to help further their research.
Since the programme was founded in 1998, more than 2,000 women in over 110 countries have been recognised for their research and received funding to further their careers.
There are three distinct tiers:
1. The International Laureate Programme:
The founding awards provide five leading female scientists, one from each continent, every year, with a prestigious Laureate of €100,000 in recognition of their groundbreaking achievements and contributions to scientific progress. These women are at the cutting edge of their research fields. The international structure of the programme ensures that the Laureates are distributed among women who are working under a wide variety of conditions. 77 Laureates have been given since this programme's creation.
These Laureates are selected by the L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards Jury which is made up of 18 eminent members of the international scientific community.
2. The International Rising Talents Programme:
Previously known as 'International Fellowships', this Programme was launched in 2014 to recognise and celebrate the best For Women In Science fellows from around the world each year. The 'International Rising Talent Fellows' will be selected among the winners of the national and regional fellowship programmes and will receive a grant of €15,000 for their research. Fifteen grants are given each year covering each of the five regions: Africa & Arab States, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America will be selected.
3. National Programme:
The National Programme, such as the For Women in Science UK & Ireland programme, is part of a network of 47 programmes in 111 countries. Each National Fellowship helps women scientists at a critical point in their career to continue to pursue their research with flexible financial aid.
The L'Oréal UK & Ireland Fellowships For Women in Science
The L'Oréal UK & Ireland Fellowships For Women in Science were launched in January 2007. The Fellowships are awards offered by a partnership between L'Oréal UK & Ireland, the UK National Commission for UNESCO and the Irish National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Royal Society. From 2015, Five Fellowships are awarded annually to outstanding female postdoctoral researchers. Each worth £15,000 (equivalent € for candidates in Ireland), the Fellowships are tenable at any UK or Irish university / research institute to support a 12-month period of postdoctoral research in any area of the life, physical sciences, mathematics and engineering.
The Fellowships have been designed to provide practical help for the winners to undertake research in their chosen fields. For example, winners may choose to spend their fellowship on buying scientific equipment, paying for child care costs, travel costs or indeed whatever they may need to continue their research.
Another important part of the Fellowship programme is the support, training and networking opportunities that it provides. Fellows make valuable friendships and connections that can lead to interesting collaborations, publications and wider appreciation of their work.