#ChangeTheNumbers: A movement by L’Oréal Foundation to change the perception of women in science

Jakarta, 6 October 2016 – Since its establishment, science has been at the heart of every innovation for L'Oréal worldwide. As the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oréal is committed to support and promote women in science. Women in science have a big role in developing Indonesia to become a science-based developed country. The spirit is poured into global campaign #ChangeTheNumbers to create a movement that can improve general perception towards female scientists. This was addressed in a media roundtable with Dr Ines Atmosukarto, L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS 2004 International Fellow; Dr. Fenny M. Dwivany, L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS 2007 International Fellow; and Melanie Masriel, Head of Communications PT L’Oréal Indonesia as the speakers.

The number, roles and influences of women in science have changed, however the changes have not been as fast as hoped. Data from LIPI shows that the current ratio of researchers in Indonesia is only 90 researchers per 1 million populations. This ratio is far behind other countries; in India the ratio is 140 researchers per 1 million populations. In a developed country like USA, the ratio is 5000 researchers per 1 million populations. Data from UNESCO shows that gender inequality in science is still quite high. In fact, the number of women scientists in Indonesia is only 30%. There is still a perception that indicates science as an inhospitable world for women.

The number of female scientists in Indonesia is indeed still far behind compared to other countries. Responding to this, CEO and Managing Director of Lipotek Pty Ltd Canberra who is also a L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS 2004 International Fellow, Dr Ines Atmosukarto said: “Like other professions, being a female scientist has its own challenges. One of which is that there are no fixed working hours. As a scientist, we have to stay alert when a research is in progress. This has created the stereotype that when you start a family you have to leave your research career; or vice versa, when you want to become a female scientist, you cannot start a family. Public’s perception shows that the world of research and family cannot go together. It is not easy, but with full support from the family as well as a burning passion, I am lucky to be able to do both simultaneously.”

According to Dr. Fenny M. Dwivany, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology in ITB and L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS 2007 International Fellow: “The rise and fall of being a female scientist in Indonesia usually correlates with funding and infrastructure availability. But a scientist cannot give up, s/he has to keep on asking and finding a way out. There are actually a lot of ways to develop our networking to help solve our problems. Science needs perseverance. A woman is usually diligent; therefore her role is needed in science. To solve a problem, different perspectives are required, thus the roles of both men and women need to be balanced.”

L’Oréal Indonesia keeps on voicing the need to increase the role of women in science and as a science-based company, L’Oréal is committed to develop science from global to national scale. L’Oréal Indonesia in partnership with KNIU has for more than a decade foster science communities from various educational stages. From L’Oréal For Women in Science (FWIS), an appreciation towards female researchers; L’Oréal Sorority in Science (SIS), a scholarship program targeted at female university students who study science to continue their studies further; and L’Oréal For Girls in Science (LGIS), a program for female high school students who are interested in science. Through these programs, L’Oréal aims to increase the number of female students that continue their studies further and placed their interests in science.

 “L’Oréal believes that the world needs science and science needs women. To change the number of female scientists in Indonesia, L’Oréal Indonesia has introduced a digital campaign by L’Oréal Foundation called ‘#ChangeTheNumbers’. This global campaign is aimed at changing public’s perception towards women in science and invite more women to choose science as their career path,” explained Melanie Masriel, Head of Communications, PT L’Oréal Indonesia.

There are 6 commitments as a part of L’Oréal Indonesia #ChangeTheNumber campaign, which are: 1) Encourage girls to explore scientific career paths; 2) Break down the barriers that prevent women scientists from pursuing long term careers in research; 3) Prioritise women's access to senior positions and leadership positions in the sciences; 4) Celebrate with the general public the contribution that women scientists make to scientific progress and to society; 5) Ensure gender equality through participation and leadership in symposiums and scientific commissions such as conferences, committees and board meetings; 6) Promote mentoring and networking for young scientists to enable them to plan and develop careers that meet their expectations.

 “L’Oréal Indonesia invites people from all walks of life to support #ChangeTheNumbers global campaign by visiting www.fwis.fr and sign up to spread the campaign and help change the current number of female scientists. Let’s #ChangeTheNumbers together and increase the role of women in science,” closed Melanie Masriel