NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- To mark the 15th anniversary of its For Women in Science (FWIS) program, L'Oréal USA partnered with the Heising-Simons Foundation to commission a study of its alumni network—scientists who have received fellowship grants since the program's 2003 launch—for their perspectives on what is needed for women to succeed in STEM. The resulting study, "Staying Power: Women in Science on What it Takes to Succeed," was developed and conducted by the independent research firm RTI International and released today. It offers unique insight into the factors that support productive, resilient careers for women in STEM, as well as the challenges that persist.
The study is part of L'Oréal USA's efforts to advance the leadership of women in STEM: a cause the beauty leader has been committed to since the 2003 launch of the U.S. FWIS program, which annually awards five exceptional female postdoctoral scientists with grants of $60,000 each. FWIS grants are administered during a critical time in female scientists' careers. Although the number of women in science is increasing, there remains a "leaky pipeline," with significant career drop-off happening during the years between postdoctoral and tenure track.
Notably, 100% of the study's respondents work in paid science-related positions today, making them a unique group from which to learn and gain insights.
"L'Oréal USA is proud to support women in STEM during a pivotal time in their careers," said Frédéric Rozé, Executive Vice President, L'Oréal Americas. "To see through these study findings that the For Women in Science program may be contributing to the staying power of female scientists throughout their careers is motivating for us as a company to continue this work. We firmly believe that the world needs science, and science needs women, because women in science have the power to change the world."
The study results identify five factors that matter most for women staying in STEM:
- Obtaining independent grant funding (according to 100% of respondents)
- Family-friendly policies and supports (98%)
- Formal or structural mentoring programs (95%)
- Career development trainings (95%)
- Structured networking programs and opportunities (91%)
The study offers additional insights into the state of women in science today, including:
- 90% of respondents said that career opportunities have improved for women in science
- 88% of respondents agree that in the past decade, the gender composition in science has improved for women
- 66% of respondents agree that, in the past decade, women's representation in leadership positions in scientific fields has improved
The study also shows that the majority of respondents are motivated by a strong desire to make a positive impact through their work; findings include:
- 92% of respondents cited the potential for major discoveries and innovation as a motivator for continuing their work in science
- 92% are involved in training and mentoring the next generation of scientists in their fields
- 87% cited the potential for solving major societal problems and improving conditions as a motivator for continuing to work in science
However, improvements are still needed. The majority (91%) of respondents agree that gender discrimination remains a career obstacle for women in science. Additional challenges, particularly at the postdoctoral stage, include:
- Self-doubt and lack of confidence: 100% of respondents indicate that these issues, which contribute to what is known as "Imposter Syndrome," serve as obstacles to women's career trajectories in the postdoctoral stage
- Gender bias: 89% of respondents said that gender bias serves as an obstacle to women's career trajectories in the postdoctoral stage
- Sexual harassment: 73% of respondents said that sexual harassment serves as an obstacle to women's career trajectories in the postdoctoral stage
- Lack of equal opportunities: Only 45% of respondents agreed that women in their scientific fields are given equal opportunities to men to pursue their careers
Findings from the study reinforce prior research on the need for intervention to better support women during their postdoctoral training. This study points to several specific areas for intervention, including:
1) The need for, and value of, independent funding for women scientists at the postdoctoral stage; this was the factor to which fellows most often attributed their success.
2) The need for structured family supports and family-friendly policies specifically targeted to postdoctoral trainees. Fellows identified family constraints or responsibilities as one of the top barriers to women's career trajectories during the postdoctoral training and felt that family-friendly policies and supports would be highly effective in promoting women's career advancement in the postdoctoral stage.
3) The need for improvements in mentoring and networking opportunities available for women in science. Many fellows felt that they would have benefited tremendously from having had a female mentor (or having more women in leadership positions in their professional networks).
4) Strategies are needed to address the confidence gap among women in science.
"By focusing on retention of women in science, we have the opportunity to shift the tide in our favor and really achieve equality," said Shruti Naik, Assistant Professor, New York University, and 2016 FWIS Fellow.
Read "Staying Power: Women in Science on What it Takes to Succeed," in full here: BIT.LY/FWIS-ALUMNI-STUDY.
About L'Oréal USA
L'Oréal USA is the largest subsidiary of the L'Oréal Group, the world's leading beauty company. L'Oréal USA manages a portfolio of more than 30 iconic beauty brands, including Garnier, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Kérastase, Lancôme, La Roche-Posay, L'Oréal Paris and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté. L'Oréal USA also serves as the international hub for the product development and marketing strategy for L'Oréal's 22 American brands: AcneFree, Baxter of California, Carol's Daughter, CeraVe, Clarisonic, Color&Co, Dermablend, essie, IT Cosmetics, Kiehl's, Matrix, Maybelline New York, Mizani, NYX Professional Makeup, Pulp Riot, Pureology, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Redken, Seed Phytonutrients, Softsheen-Carson, SkinCeuticals and Urban Decay. Generating more than $7 billion in sales annually, L'Oréal USA is committed to growth through sustainable innovation, driven by the company's Sharing Beauty With All ambition for sustainable development across the Group's value chain. The company is headquartered in New York City, employs more than 11,000 people, and operates administrative, research, manufacturing and distribution facilities across 14 states, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Washington. For more information, visit www.lorealusa.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @LOrealUSA.
About L'Oréal USA's For Women in Science Program
The L'Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship program awards five women postdoctoral scientists annually with grants of $60,000 each for their contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. The program is the U.S. component of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Fellowships program. Celebrating its fifteenth year in the U.S., the For Women in Science program has awarded 75 postdoctoral women scientists nearly $4 million grants.
L'Oréal USA partners with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to manage the program's application and peer-review process. Each year, the program attracts talented applicants from diverse STEM fields, representing some of the nation's leading academic institutions and laboratories.
About the Heising-Simons Foundation
The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people. As part of its program in Science, the Foundation's Women in Physics and Astronomy grantmaking aims to increase the number of women in these fields, both in colleges and in academic and research careers in the United States. Learn more at www.hsfoundation.org/
RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Combining scientific rigor and technical proficiency, we deliver reliable data, thorough analysis, innovative methods, and novel technologies to inform public policy and ground practice in evidence. Our experts hold degrees in more than 250 scientific, technical, and professional disciplines across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering, and international development fields. Our staff of nearly 5,000 works in more than 75 countries to address complex social and scientific challenges on behalf of governments, businesses, foundations, universities, and other clients and partners. Learn more at www.rti.org .
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