Today, only 28% of researchers are women and only 3% of Scientific Nobel Prizes are awarded to them. This is why, for the past 19 years, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO have been committed to women in science, to increase the number of women working in scientific research.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science awards celebrates and highlights researchers from each of the five continents. Each year, these five eminent and experienced scientists, whose work has been recognized at the highest international level, are honored for their world-changing discoveries in an annual award ceremony in Paris. The program also supports more than 250 young women scientists who are the “scientists of tomorrow” by accompanying them at a key moment in their careers, during their PhD thesis or post-doctoral studies. Since 2001, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO have supported more than 2700 young women from 115 countries.
Because promoting women in science requires raising public awareness, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and UNESCO have worked together with international TV channel France 24 on an exclusive series of documentaries called “Women in science”. These eight 12-minute episodes will introduce the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award Laureates and show how they are changing the world. New episodes will broadcasted each Sunday on France 24 on the French, English and Arabic channels.
The second episode will showcase Professor Nicola A. Spaldin, 2017 Laureate of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme. She was selected for reinventing magnetic materials for next-generation electronic devices:
"Today’s world is surrounded by electronic devices which makes everyone’s life easier: cellphones, GPS, computers. These devices all contain two types of components, which either store or deliver information in the electronic circuits. A material that allows “two-in-one” components, able to both store and process information, would significantly reduce the size of electronic devices allowing for a new generation of technologies that are lighter, smaller and more energy-efficient."
Professor Nicola A. Spaldin’s research conceived and developed a new class of two-inone materials called “multiferroics”, which are at the same time both ferromagnetic and ferroelectric. Multiferroics are rarely found in nature and must be developed in the laboratory. Prof. Spaldin begins by designing the physical and chemical structure of new materials using computer simulations and then uses the results of these simulations to guide real experiments with her team and with outside collaborators. Since 2010, she has headed the Materials Theory Group at the Swiss Federal Technical University (ETH) in Zürich, where her work focuses on understanding and developing these materials, which as mentioned, are both ferroelectric and magnetic at the same time. While ferroelectricity was first hypothesized by Pierre Curie in the late 1800s, it took another hundred years before Spaldin’s work allowed ferroelectricity to be combined with magnetism.