Women in Science

While science needs the best minds, there is still a lot of research potential given away as too few highly qualified women work in research. In addition, research institutes worldwide are mostly led by men and there are still wage gaps between the sexes. Children are often a career disadvantage, but alone do not explain the income and responsibility differences.

In order for change to happen, female scientists are needed as role models, and targeted support to women and especially mothers. UNESCO contributes to such change through several programmes, in particular through cooperation with l'Oréal.

Since 1998, the l'Oréal UNESCO Award has highlighted the outstanding achievements of women in research. In addition, UNESCO-L'Oréal grants (Rising Talents Grants) are awarded annually to outstanding female researchers at international level.

A separate funding programme exists in the Baltic States. In Lithuania, the l'Oréal Baltic in cooperation with the Lithuanian Commission for UNESCO and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences annually awards two grants of € 6,000 each to support excellent female doctoral and postdoctoral researchers with children from the experimental natural sciences and medicine. Through the funding, they should optimally exploit their scientific potential and gain more time for their scientific work. It also includes an individualized career development programme with components such as coaching or mentoring, and financial support earmarked for support Performance to the respective research institution. The national funding programme started only in 2017, when the l’Oréal Baltic expanded the programme, previously aimed solely at Latvian researchers, to include Estonia and Lithuania.

The young scientists that are awarded The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowships provide a role model for career success. 

The first L’Oréal Baltic For Women in Science Fellowship winner from Lithuania neuroscientist Dr Urtė Neniškytė, a researcher at the Life Science Center at Vilnius University, whose main area of work relates to the interaction of neurons and immune cells in the brain, was among the 14 young scientists across the world who received the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme prestigious awards in the category of International Rising Talents in 2019.