19 December 1999

Follicular support for science!

by Kate Melville

In our cynical world one tends to suspect most press releases that come over our desks.

However the new partnership between UNESCO and L'Oreal called, 'Women in Science', is one that we felt was worthwhile promoting.

This new scheme will provide a 10 scholarships of US $10,000 to young women engaged in promising post-doctoral research in the life sciences.

Sure its easy to say that this is only US$100,000 and it could have been more, but rather than quibbling over the amount we would like to applaud L'Oreal because if more companies took this approach then both science and humanity would be better off. Philanthropy, sponsorship and the whole area of 'giving' is very complicated and there are many other larger examples of serious support for science. However what we like about this deal is that it breaks the mould where lots of companies that depend on science seem to do next to nothing to support science or scientists. Sure by setting up this deal L'Oreal is probably getting a good angle to spin to their target audience, but so what!

You never, even in science get something for nothing, and if anyone seriously thinks arrangement will cause a huge boost to L'Oreal's sales of hair treatments then we suggest you think again.

The prizes, are to be awarded to women under 30 from Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Europe, on January 10, 2000 are aimed at helping the recipients get established in the world of research.

This is the second time L'Oreal in has partnered with UNESCO, to help women overcome obstacles to the fulfilment of their scientific potential.

L'Oreal CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones, says in the press release, "Getting involved with UNESCO in the For Women in Sciences Project is a way to express two fundamental beliefs. That science is the source of all progress and that the contributions of women is vital to its future".

If you want to find out more about who won look at the website at http://www.forwomeninscience.com but you'll have to wait until after Jan. 10th 2000.