Yale Researcher Joan Steitz Among Five Women Scientists Honored by L'Oreal and UNESCO
for Contributions in Life Sciences
Joan Steitz, the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, is one of five recipients of the “For Women in Science Program” award from L’Oreal Beauty Company and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Steitz is being recognized for her work, which could help improve diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases such as lupus. She discovered snRNPs (pronounced snurps), small particles found in cells that are necessary for converting raw genetic information into active proteins. These particles act to produce messenger molecules that can be read directly into proteins. They are therefore critical for carrying out all of the body’s most basic biological processes, such as developing the immune system or the brain.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of all women scientists,” said Steitz. “It is not easy for women in the field of science, as we continue to be very underrepresented. If you are passionate about a career in science, then the hurdles can be overcome and women can participate in the joy and exhilaration of scientific discovery.”
L’Oreal and UNESCO created the “For Women in Science Program” in 1998 to encourage women to pursue careers in life sciences by recognizing their progress in this field. According to studies done by MIT, far fewer women than men take up scientific careers, and when they do, they rarely reach senior positions. Only 30 percent of the research jobs in the United States are held by women, and only five to 10 percent of women worldwide hold leadership positions in the sciences.
The four other women being honored at the awards ceremony held in Paris include Suzanne Cory of Australia, Adeyinka Gladys Falusi of Nigeria, Mayana Katz of Brazil and Anne McClaren of Great Britain.