AsianScientist (Apr. 26, 2016) – There still exists a gender imbalance in science and technology, particularly here in Asia. And it becomes more obvious the higher up the ladder you go.
According to a 2015 report titled Women in Science and Technology in Asia by the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia, in seven of the ten countries studied, more women than men are enrolled in undergraduate degrees overall. However, in science and technology, it’s a different story.
In Bangladesh, India, Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, and Turkey, approximately 28-48 percent of undergraduate degrees in science and technology were granted to women. Furthermore, in most of the Asia-Pacific countries except Malaysia and the Philippines, women’s participation in the science and technology workforce is much lower than men.
The report notes that there are still several obstacles for Asian women seeking science careers, stemming from cultural and societal values in most of the countries—such as “regarding most science subjects as inappropriate for girls, and assuming that females simply cannot compete with their male colleagues.”
Against these odds, women in Asia have made significant contributions to science. Here are the women of the Asian Scientist 100, 15 prize-winning scientists who have achieved success in their respective fields and have been recognized for it. Some have even made groundbreaking discoveries or won Nobel Prizes!
- Chan Yoke-Fun
Chan received a 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science fellowship for developing therapeutic peptides that target enterovirus A71 in hand, foot and mouth disease.
(Photo: Chan Yoke-Fun)
- Nancy Ip
In 2015, Ip was elected as foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. An academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the dean of science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Ip has furthered our understanding into brain development and synaptic plasticity, and dysregulation in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Awards include the National Natural Science Awards, China’s highest honor in the natural sciences, and the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award.
(Photo: Nancy Ip/HKUST)
- Irene Ng Oi Lin
Ng received The World Academy of Sciences 2014 prize in medical sciences for her research into liver cancer.
(Photo: Croucher Foundation)
- Tran Ha-Lien Phuong
A 2015 L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science International Rising Talent, Phuong develops fucoidan-based polymeric micelles for cancer treatment and diagnosis.
(Photo: Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City)
Takahashi was placed on Nature magazine’s “Nature’s 10 2014” for carrying out the first-ever induced pluripotent stem cell clinical study for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. Since the surgery in 2014, the patient has shown no tumor formation, Takahashi’s team says.
- Shubha Tole
Tole was awarded the Infosys Prize 2014 in Life Sciences for her work on the mammalian nervous system, which revealed genetic mechanisms critical to the formation of the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and amygdala.
- Tu Youyou
Tu, a traditional Chinese medicine expert, received one half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for developing an anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, based on ancient herbal medicine. Tu is the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Artemisinin rapidly kills malaria parasites at an early stage of their development, which explains its unprecedented potency in the treatment of severe malaria. When used in combination therapy, artemisinin is estimated to reduce mortality from malaria by more than 20 percent overall and by more than 30 percent in children.
(Photo: China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine)
- Olivia Lum
Hyflux’s founder had a good run in 2014, winning Frost & Sullivan’s Asia Pacific Water Technology Company of the Year Award and Global Water Intelligence UK’s Desalination Plant of the Year for its Tuaspring seawater reverse osmosis plant in Singapore.
(Photo: Yale-NUS College)
- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
- Masako Yudasaka
Sumio Iijima, Akira Koshio and Yudasaka shared the European Inventor Award 2015 in the non-European countries category for their ground-breaking discovery of carbon nanotubes and for developing a sustainable process to produce them.
- Xie Yi
Xie was honored with a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in 2015 for creating new nanomaterials with promising applications in the conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity.
- Vivian Yam
Yam won the Ludwig Mond Award 2015 from the Royal Society of Chemistry for her work in inorganic and organometallic chemistry. In the same year, she was also elected as a foreign member of the Academia Europaea, an international, non-governmental association of individual scientists and scholars from all disciplines.
(Photo: University of Hong Kong)
- Dang Thi Oanh
Dang won the 2015 Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for developing algorithms to solve problems that are normally too complicated for computers.
(Photo: The Elsevier Foundation)
- Neeti Kailas
Kailas was a 2014 Young Laureate (science & health) of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise for developing a non-invasive medical device to screen for hearing impairment in newborns.
(Photo: Rolex Awards for Enterprise)
- Yang Ke
Yang, the executive vice president of Peking University, won the 2015 Prince Mahidol Award for reforming research and medical education in China.
(Photo: Peking University)
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
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