Science needs women

Walking through CDG airport has been a particular joy for me over the last few months. I’m guessing that’s not something you hear very often, but let me explain. Due to my job and personal circumstances, I fly a lot. Mostly they are short-haul flights to Geneva, or back to the UK, and it’s become such a regular part of my life that I don’t enjoy it anymore (in fact, I often grumble about it). I don’t mean to seem ungrateful! I’m certainly thankful that the option is available to me, but mostly flying is now a bit of a hassle and when something becomes part of your routine it can get boring.

Recently, however, I’ve had something to brighten my mood as I walk ( / run) to the departure gate. The reason for this was a number of very large banners proudly declaring that “Science needs women”, or << La science a besoin des femmes >> if you’re reading the ones in French. Either way, the message was clear, especially since each banner contained a huge photograph of one of the five L’Oreal UNESCO Award winners. You can see some of the banners below – I was so excited, I got my phone out and took a lot of photos! Each woman is a distinguished researcher, with only one scientist receiving the award from each continent.

"Science needs women"! The poster for Professor Laurie Glimcher, Laureate for North America.
“Science needs women”! The poster for Professor Laurie Glimcher, Laureate for North America.

Just seeing these made me proud! And also inspired me that maybe one day I could be on an airport banner. Not because I was selling perfume or make-up, but because I’d pushed the boundaries of human knowledge. Stories of women being held back in research make me sad and angry, and unfortunately they do happen, but here was a case where great female scientists were being proudly shown to thousands of international travellers a day!

> The poster for Doctor Segenet Kelemu, Laureate for Africa and the Arab States.
<< La science a besoin des femmes >> ! The poster for Doctor Segenet Kelemu, Laureate for Africa and the Arab States.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, or so they say, and the banners have now been replaced with ones advertising primary coloured versions of popular brand of smartphone. Personally, I would argue that they don’t really need the exposure and that they should put the Women in Science posters back up! At least it would brighten my trips to the departure gate again. What do you think?

Link: The For Women in Science YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/forwomeninscience

Edit (02 June 2014): The posters have either gone back up or I was wrong which terminal I thought they were in, but on walking through 2E last night I saw them again! 🙂

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