Dr Matire Harwood, the 2017 L'Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science fellow

L’Oréal is proud to be supporting women researchers throughout the world who contribute to moving science forward.  

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme recognises the work of female scientists around the world.  With only 30% of the world’s researchers being women*, it aims to promote and highlight the critical importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science.

There are three programmes:

1. The International Laureate Programme:

L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards have recognised 87 Laureates, exceptional women who have made great advances in scientific research.  Two of them have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize. In 2007, New Zealand Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, University of Auckland, received the Asia-Pacific Laureate award in materials science for her research on the synthesis of biologically active natural products that provide new lead compounds for the development of new drugs.

Read more about this year's International Laureates

2. The International Rising Talents Programme:

Recognising the best For Women in Science fellows from around the world each year, the ‘International Rising Talent Fellows’ are selected from the winners of the national and regional fellowship programmes.  Fifteen grants are given annually, covering each of the five regions: Africa & Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America.

3. The National Fellowships:

The National Fellowships, such as the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Australia & New Zealand Fellowship programme, are run in 46 countries around the world.  Each National Fellowship helps female scientists at a critical point in their career to continue to pursue their research with flexible financial aid.  The Australia & New Zealand Fellowship programme comprises four $25,000 awards, three for Australian scientists and one dedicated to a New Zealander.

Since 1998, over 2,000 scientists in more than 110 countries have received this award, and 87 Laureates have also been awarded. 

While New Zealand women scientists have been recognised previously, 2015 is the first year the nation has had its own dedicated fellowship. 

Inaugural winner of the L’Oréal-UNESCO New Zealand Fellowship was University of Otago geologist Dr Christina Riesselman, to support her research into climate change.  Dr Riesselman is using her Fellowship to focus on the end of the last Ice Age around 11,000 years ago when earth warmed quickly and sea levels rose to their current levels.

The 2016 recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science New Zealand dedicated Fellowship was Erin Leitoa.  The Auckland University chemical scientist spends her days trying to understand and develop was of creating new material building blocks and new ways to connect them.

In 2017, Dr Matire Harwood has been honoured with a fellowship in the 2017 L'Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science programme for her research in addressing the inequities of health related outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Her research is important to the 400 million indigenous people around the world and it could improve their health outcomes not only in New Zealand but also internationally.

“Indigenous health and well-being is an international priority, with long-term conditions the biggest contributor to life expectancy gaps worldwide” say Dr Harwood. Achieving equity within health and well-being will have a positive impact on the lives of patients, as well as for the community, the nation, and the world over.

“The L’Oréal For Women In Science Fellowship will enable me to accelerate my work on the effect of indigenous-led interventions for long-term conditions including cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, respiratory conditions, obesity and smoking,” she added.

Applications for 2018 are now open.  More information on the L’Oréal-UNESCO fellowships can be found here: For Women in Science Australia and New Zealand


*UNESCO Institute of Statistics (2014)