Credit: Originally published by Mail & Guardian | 5 September 2013.

Two South African women receiving €15 000 towards their doctoral research. The majority of the 10 fellowship winners are based at South African universities.

The programme is meant to encourage women to conduct and complete doctoral research in the male-dominated field of science.

Adriana Marias (University of KwaZulu-Natal) is conducting research into quantum biology and Mpho Ivy Raborife (University of Witwatersrand) focuses on computer science.

Six of the other winners – Chika Yinka-Banjo (Nigeria); Fiona Baine (Uganda); Sekai Lana Tombe (Zimbabwe); Joyce Mwangama (Tanzania); Aline Saraiva Okello (Mozambique) and Aline Simo (Cameroon) – are based at South African universities, namely the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape. The other two winners – Mercy Badu (Ghana) and Fortune Amah-Tariah (Nigeria) – are based in their home countries.

The fellowship programme is open to female scientists under the age of 40 in sub-Saharan Africa who are reading for a doctoral science degree. It was first piloted in 2010. L’Oréal South Africa managing director Bertrand de Laleu said: “Women face a number of challenges in this still heavily male-dominated sector. L’Oréal seeks to assist by removing one of these hurdles, which is access to finance.

“Not only is it anticipated that this will increase their active involvement and contribution to the sciences, but it will also enable women to positively impact social and economic progress in various ways, such as through addressing climate change and public health issues, for example.

“We believe the women we assist have the potential to make great strides in the field of science; in fact, two of the beneficiaries of our global programme have gone on to win Nobel prizes,” he said.

He said that the programme received 158 applications from sub-Saharan Africa.