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More women needed in science and engineering

Posted: 10 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Marie Curie? women? Nobel Prize? engineer?

Where have all the Marie Curies gone?

In order to attract more young women to take up engineering and science, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is organising its largest public symposium, led by a group of female professors. The event will showcase some of the best female scientific talent from Singapore and abroad. The symposium will be held in conjunction with Marie Curie's 147th birthday.

Curie was the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize and the first person to win the prestigious award in two different categoriesphysics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.

NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said one of the key issues facing a developed economy including Singapore is that women are dropping out of engineering and science at various stages of their lives, such as after graduation or when they start a family.

"We now have fewer women in the important fields of engineering, science and technology; and we are missing out all that potential and half of the best brains," Andersson said. "Today's WEST Symposium is part of NTU's continuous drive to increase the number of women in the field of science and engineering as well as to cultivate future leaders."

The inaugural symposium brings together women who represent different generations of engineers, scientists and technologists. They will share their discoveries and journeys in choosing their current career paths with more than 200 participants, including students from junior colleges and polytechnics.

While women make up about half of the world's population, about 24 per cent of the scientists and engineers in the United States and the European Union are women. The number of female scientists in Singapore is slightly higher at 30 per cent.

"We hope to inspire and empower young women to choose and stay in engineering or science as a career by giving them a platform to network with role modelswomen like Professor Ada E. Yonath and many of the speakers today, who have blased a path in this world," added Andersson.

Professor Ada E. Yonath was the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009. A crystallographer best known for her pioneering work on the structure of the ribosome (cells which help make proteins), she is also a role model for female scientists worldwide having received the L'Oral-UNESCO for Women in Science (FWIS) Award in 2008.

In 2009, she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz. She is currently the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Centre for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

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