Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Can't Name a Famous Female Scientist According to National Survey by L'Oreal USA

May 07, 2009, 10:13 ET from L'Oreal USA

Americans Believe Underrepresentation of Women in Science Could Hinder Economic Growth

NEW YORK, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A new national survey commissioned by L'Oreal USA confirms an alarming issue plaguing our nation's scientific community - the scarcity of female scientists and lack of awareness of their contributions. According to the survey Women, Science and Success: The New Face of Innovation, 65 percent of American adults cannot name a single famous female scientist, and 74 percent of Americans believe that women are underrepresented in science-related fields.


As our nation focuses on critical economic recovery efforts, the survey finds that Americans are concerned about the potential economic impact of the underrepresentation of women in science, and believe that more should be done to encourage women to pursue science-related careers.

L'Oreal USA commissioned Opinion Research to conduct a telephone survey of 1,000 Americans in April 2009 as part of the company's commitment to raise awareness of women's contributions to the science field and the need to encourage more women to pursue science-related careers.

Approximately half (48 percent) of Americans say the U.S. lags behind other countries in terms of investing in scientific research, development and discovery. Americans overwhelmingly believe science has a significant impact on innovation, economic growth and job creation. Nearly nine out of 10 Americans agree that:

  • Scientific research, development and discovery lead to innovation and inventions that contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy (87 percent)
  • If the U.S. invests more resources in scientific research, development and discovery, it will generate job growth (88 percent)

The survey revealed that Americans see women's participation as key to the country's advancements in these areas. Nearly all Americans (97 percent) believe women are capable of making significant contributions to scientific research, development and discovery. More than eight out of 10 (87 percent) survey respondents say more women are needed in science-related fields to ensure scientific and technological progress. Likewise, they see a danger in not investing more resources to encourage more women to get involved in science: 59 percent believe that an underrepresentation of women in science-related fields could hinder U.S. advancements in science and economic growth.

To help solve the issue, Americans are looking to corporations and the government to play a leadership role. More than seven out of 10 Americans say:

  • The U.S. Government should invest additional resources to ensure more women are encouraged to pursue science-related careers (71 percent); corporations should invest additional finances and resources to ensure that more women are encouraged to pursue science-related careers (76 percent)

"For society to meet the scientific challenges of the 21st century, we need to do more to fully engage the contributions of all citizens, particularly women, in science-related fields," said Laurent Attal, President and CEO L'Oreal USA. "We need our best and brightest minds advancing research, making discoveries and helping to stimulate the economy. Women are a pivotal part of that progress."

For the sixth consecutive year, L'Oreal USA will be awarding fellowship grants to five women postdoctoral researchers as part of its For Women in Science program. This national award program recognizes, rewards and supports U.S.-based female researchers who are beginning careers in life and physical/material sciences, mathematics, engineering and computer science.

The L'Oreal USA Fellowships For Women in Science is a national extension of the international L'Oreal - UNESCO For Women in Science program - which annually awards $100,000 each to five leading women career scientists - from Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America, South America, Africa and the Arab States.

For more information, please visit or the L'Oreal for Women in Science Facebook page (


L'Oreal USA, headquartered in New York City, with 2008 sales of over $4.5 billion and over 9,000 employees, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of L'Oreal SA, one of the world's leading beauty companies. In addition to corporate headquarters in New York, L'Oreal USA has Research and Development, Manufacturing and Distribution facilities across eight states in the U.S., including New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas.

L'Oreal's impressive portfolio of brands includes Lancome, Giorgio Armani, shu uemura, Yves Saint Laurent Beaute, Biotherm, Viktor & Rolf, Diesel, Cacharel, L'Oreal Paris, Garnier, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, L'Oreal Professionnel and Kerastase. The U.S. is the base for the product development, international marketing and advertising for L'Oreal's eleven American brands: Maybelline New York, Soft-Sheen, Carson, Kiehl's Since 1851, Ralph Lauren, Redken 5th Avenue NYC, Matrix, Logics, Mizani, Pureology, SkinCeuticals and Dermablend.