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Women from Egypt, Mexico and India were among five female researchers to be awarded for their contributions to science on 6 March. The awards — presented by the cosmetics company L’Oréal and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) — aim to encourage more women to become scientists.

Egyptian geneticist Nagwa Meguid, Mexican eye specialist Ana María Lopez Colomé and Indian leprosy expert Indira Nath, were each awarded US$20,000. US genetics researcher Shirley Tilghman and the researcher Mary Osborn, who works in Germany and who developed immunofluorescence microscopy, also won prizes for their work.

“The situation of women scientists in developing countries is favourable, with many going into biology and biotechnology,” says Nath. “(But) of course there is a glass ceiling and few (women) are seen in top positions.”

She adds: “The challenge for the future is to attract and retain women in science. … To make science managers and the policy makers aware that women … require flexible hours, more nurseries at work for their children, appreciation that their contribution is essential for developmental activities. Most importantly, they do not have to be forced into aping male behaviour to be successful.”

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