International program for women in science and technology
In October 2019, the jury of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science award designated the winners. Their names were announced at the solemn ceremony which took place in Moscow, as in previous years.
The competition’s history dates back to the 1990s, when the issue of gender inequality in science was most acute. The need to support female researchers was first discussed at the IV International Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.
As early as 1996, UNESCO launched the Women, Science, and Technology Program, and in 1998, the L’Oréal Foundation-UNESCO partnership resulted in the creation of the world-famous For Women in Science program.
Since then, these prestigious international awards have been presented annually to five female researchers in the field of fundamental sciences, to one per each world region. In 2007, the Russian scientist Tatiana Birstein, professor of Physics Department at St. Petersburg State University, received the award for her work on polymers.
With the establishment of an international scholarship for women who have defended PhD theses and continued their research abroad, the year 2000 marked a new stage in the L’Oréal Foundation-UNESCO cooperation.
This initiative had gained ground, and in 2007, the L’Oréal Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO established For Women in Science national fellowship, aimed at scientists under the age of 35 who conduct promising postdoctoral research in fundamental sciences at Russian research institutes and wish to pursue it there. This fellowship not only gives women an opportunity to fulfill their professional potential, but also contributes to the development of science at the national level.
Over the years, more than a hundred Russian fellowship holders have made a huge contribution to the advancement of science. For example, Tatyana Lopatina, a scientist holding a PhD in biology from Moscow State University, has made great strides in the study of the stem cells’ role in tissue regeneration. The project of Irina Didenkulova, senior researcher of the Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University and the winner of the 2016 award, helps to improve the accurately of forecasts of marine natural disasters and mitigate their consequences.
In 2019, the jury was chaired by Alexei Khokhlov, vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, professor, head of the Chair of Polymer and Crystal Physics at the Physics Department of Lomonosov Moscow State University, academician, member of the Academia Europaea, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation. It was composed of Olga Vinogradova, D.Sc. in Physical and Mathematical Sciences, professor, head of the Laboratory of the Physical Chemistry of Modified Surfaces of the Frumkin Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea; Sofia Georgieva, D.Sc. in Biology, professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea; Olga Dontsova, D.Sc. in Biology, professor, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea; Mikhail Egorov, D.Sc. in Chemistry, professor, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation; Sergey Nedospasov, D.Sc. in Biology, professor, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Academia Europaea, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation; Alexander Obraztsov, D.Sc. in Physical and Mathematical Sciences, professor; and other eminent scientists. They considered a total of 335 applications from 45 cities of Russia. The fellowship was awarded to 10 researchers, whose fields of scholarly endeavor range from organic chemistry to oceanology. Together they not only push science forward, but also prove that today it has a female face.