In the first For Women in Science Ceremony since Covid-19, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO celebrated the 30 recipients of its International Rising Talents from 2020 and 2022, and the 15 Laureates awarded in 2020, 2021 and 2022 in Paris, France. Dr. Alison McAfee, a post-doctoral fellow in the Foster lab, was recognized for her pioneering research on honeybee reproduction and fertility. Her work focuses on environmental risks to honeybees, including extreme temperatures and chemical pesticides, and explores how best to protect queen bees, so they can continue laying fertilized eggs and maintaining strong colonies.
Having grown up on a small island in British Columbia, living in a small, off-grid community, Dr. McAfee reflected on joining the For Women in Science community:
“This sense of community amongst strong, successful women is something often lacking in the top tiers of science. It is humbling and empowering, knowing that I now stand in the ranks of these impressive women. Research needs creative thinkers, and sometimes a problem or research question benefits from being addressed and interpreted in many different ways. Women are a huge un-tapped intellectual resource in science – their perspectives, ideas and interpretations stand to deliver great value”
“I am so proud to see one of our Canadian L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in science fellow being recognized at the International level,” An Verhulst-Santos, President & CEO of L’Oréal Canada said. “Dr. McAfee, our 4t International Rising Talent in Canada, makes us proud and represents the younger generation of scientists solving important challenges and speaking up for change,” she concluded.
In a tweet this week, Natasha P. Cayer, Canada’s ambassador and permanent representative to UNESCO described McAfee as “one of many brilliant female minds addressing global problems. [She] may just save our global food supply by unlocking the secret life of bees.”
A UNIQUE GLOBAL REUNION OF WOMEN SCIENTISTS
After two consecutive cancellations of the event due to the pandemic, this year’s Ceremony was particularly celebratory and unique. Held on Wednesday, June 22nd at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the International Rising Talents Ceremony honored and awarded 30 young female scientists who received the title of International Rising Talents. The following day, 15 eminent laureates from various fields in Life and Environmental Sciences, Physical Science, Mathematics and Computer Sciences were recognized as well during a moving ceremony held at UNESCO headquarters.
Each awardee has dedicated her life to combating one or many severe challenges facing the world today. Together, these scientists have the objective to solve important challenges and speak up for change. During the ceremony, the extraordinary contribution of women in science was celebrated amongst a distinguished audience, including representatives of science, academics, opinion leaders, politicians, members of public authorities, and organizations promoting gender equality and women empowerment. This year’s reunion reminded the world how vital women scientists and their work are for our common future.
THE WORLD NEEDS SCIENCE AND SCIENCE NEEDS WOMEN
The world is facing unparalleled challenges: climate change, lack of resources, health risks, and the Covid-19 pandemic, among many other mounting world issues. Selected during the past three years, the women awarded this week by the L’Oréal-UNESCO program have already proven how transformative their science can be in addressing these challenges.
By celebrating 45 outstanding female researchers from all over the world in this unique Ceremony, the Fondation L’Oréal and UNESCO have stood out to reward and show their full support to women scientists whose work has been so instrumental during these incredibly trying times. These women are often subject to invisibilization and marginalization, inequalities, biases, and systemic barriers. Their presence in Paris this week marked the perfect occasion to recognize their meaningful contributions while reminding the world that the gender gap remains.
ABOUT L’ORÉAL CANADA
L’Oréal Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of L’Oréal Group, the largest cosmetics company in the world. Headquartered in Montreal, the company had sales of $1.38 billion in 2021 and employs more than 1,450 people. The company holds a portfolio of 39 brands, encompassing all aspects of beauty, and is present across all distribution networks: mass market, department stores, salons, pharmacies, drugstores, and branded retail. L’Oréal Canada, whose operations are carbon neutral, supports the L’Oréal Foundation’s programs such as L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science, which has promoted the advancement of women in science in Canada since 2003, Beauty for a better life, a social reintegration program in hairdressing for immigrant women since 2017.
ABOUT THE FONDATION L’ORÉAL
The Fondation L’Oréal supports and empowers women to shape their future and make a difference in society, focusing on three major areas: scientific research, inclusive beauty and climate action.
Since 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has worked to empower more women scientists to overcome barriers to progression and participate in solving the great challenges of our time, for the benefit of all. For 24 years, it has supported more than 3,900 women researchers from over 110 countries, rewarding scientific excellence and inspiring younger generations of women to pursue science as a career.
Convinced that beauty contributes to the process of rebuilding lives, the Fondation L’Oréal helps vulnerable women to improve their self-esteem through free beauty and wellness treatments. It also enables underprivileged women to gain access to employment with dedicated vocational beauty training. On average, around 16,000 people have access to these free treatments every year and more than 18,000 people have taken part in professional beauty training, since the beginning of the program.
Finally, women are affected by persistent gender-based discrimination and inequalities, exacerbated by climate change. While they are on the frontline of the crisis, they remain under-represented in climate decision-making. The Women and Climate program of the Fondation L’Oréal supports, in particular, women who are developing climate action projects addressing the urgent climate crisis and raises awareness of the importance of gender-sensitive climate solutions.
The original version of this release was authored by Fondation L’Oréal.