Susannah (middle) at the L’Oréal Women in Science Awards, with Girl Up team member Katherine Arnold (left) and student Jamie Russo (right)
L’Oréal USA celebrated its annual Women in Science awards on Thursday, Sept. 13 at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. The whole night was dedicated to celebrating women in science and empowering girls and young women to explore their interests.
I was invited to the event as a part of Girl Up, and as soon as I walked into the Morgan Library and Museum, I could tell that the evening was going to be exciting. I was the youngest person there!
The first night involved speeches and an awards ceremony with around 75 other guests.
Throughout the evening, Rebecca Caruso, the Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications at L’Oréal, made a point to address my generation and the future women in science. In a poll conducted by L’Oréal USA, a majority of girls in middle school who were interested in science chose not to pursue it “because science isn’t cool or fun, or because scientists are nerds.” Ms. Caruso wondered, “What if, instead of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey, it was ‘The Real Scientists of New Jersey’? What if we could make science something that’s fun and cool for young girls who have the impression that scientists are simply glued to their microscopes?”
With the recognition of five incredible women in science, and with the launch of their new website, For Girls in Science, L’Oréal hoped to do just that. This program aims to get women more represented in male-dominated fields, like those of STEM, because although women earn more than 50 percent of PhDs in the life sciences, for example, they represent less than 25 percent of the workforce in that area. L’Oréal USA For Women in Science empowers women and girls to get involved in science, and the five fellowship awardees being honored that night are living proof that women can and do succeed in that field.
Each of the 2012 L’Oréal USA Women in Science fellows – Dr. Christina Agapakis, Dr. Lilian Childress, Dr. Joanna Kelley, Dr. Erin Marie Williams, and Dr. Jaclyn Winter – is turning “What Ifs” into realities, showing young girls that science is innovative, creative, fun, and yes, cool.
After Caruso’s closing remarks, we were all invited upstairs. iPads previewing L’Oréal’s new FGIS website, designed for girls ages 13- to- 18, were spread throughout.
I was able to talk with Dr. Kelley and she encouraged me to explore my curiosities now and told me not to be afraid to make any mistakes. I really enjoyed our conversation, because just like her, I am interested in math and technology and their applications to sciences. I also spoke with Caruso, who praised Girl Up and the work we are doing.
Later in the night, I was actually asked for an interview -- camera, microphone and all! I was asked about my school, my interests in STEM, and my work with Girl Up.
I learned a great deal about science and about the issues of women struggling in science that night. Women are just as capable as men to do what they love and succeed at it. This event has taught me to never lose sight of that, something that I will hold with me forever.
So, as Caruso said to the crowd, “Go out there, discover what interests you, turn criticisms into motivations, and you will succeed. You will not regret it.”