Students at the L’Oréal For Girls in Science event.

Encouraging girls to follow science as a career path is the aim of the annual L’Oréal For Girls in Science forum. 

Bringing together more than 150 senior secondary school students at the University of Auckland, participants hear the research and career stories of celebrated New Zealand women scientists.

Hosted by Nanogirl, Dr Michelle Dickinson, winners of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, including: University of Auckland chemist, Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, marine biologist Dr Zoë Hilton, Dr Suetonia Palmer, a kidney disease specialist, and geologist Dr Christina Riesselman, shared their experiences with the students.

“Opportunities like this can change the lives of our girls as they hear about disciplines of science they may not have seen at school and they can potentially find their true passion,” says Dr Michelle Dickinson.

The disparity between the numbers of women entering and staying in science is clear. International research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group for L’Oréal shows that only 35 per cent of girls graduating from high school go in to science as a career, with only 18 per cent graduating.

In New Zealand, that rate is higher: 40 per cent graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science are female.

Following the forum the girls visit the university’s science faculty laboratories including the Photon Factory, the Biophotonic Lab and Professor Brimble’s research laboratory.