Zhang Miman is given a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science award on March 22. CFP
Forty years ago, when Marilyn Loden, then 31 and a manager at a telephone company, made a speech at the 1978 Women’s Exposition, she didn’t know that a phrase she came up with on that day would still be alive after all these years. “It seemed to me there was an invisible barrier to advancement that people didn’t recognize,” Loden said at the expo when talking about how hard it was for women to climb the career ladder. And that barrier, according to her, could all be boiled down to one phrase – “glass ceiling”.
四十年前，当年31岁的电话公司经理玛丽莲·洛登在1978年的女性博览会上发言时，她并不知道自己那天所说的一个短语到如今还被频繁使用。“对我而言，在前进过程中似乎有一道隐形障碍，而人们并没有意识到这一点，”洛登在会上谈到女性在职业上获得晋升之艰难时曾如此说道。而她认为，那道障碍可以用一个短语来形容 —— “玻璃天花板”。
Since then, there have been major advances in gender equality. We’ve seen women achieving bigger and bigger things in cinema, education, politics and even business. But sadly, there’s one field that’s still run mainly by men: science.
That’s why it was inspiring when Zhang Miman, 82, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was given a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science award on March 22.
Zhang was honored for the discoveries she made on the process of human evolution. And she is the fifth Chinese female scientist to receive this award in its 20-year history of celebrating the achievements of women around the world.
According to China Daily, the number of women working in science around the world has increased by 12 percent in the past 20 years. But even so, the glass ceiling is still there. Indeed, less than 30 percent of researchers are women, and only 3 percent of Nobel prizes for science have been awarded to women.
Of course, it has little to do with the stereotype that “women are bad at science”. In fact, a study found that nearly half of the “highly qualified” scientists and engineers in the US are women. However, they normally leave the industry in less than 10 years because “they’re often the only women on a project team or on a work site, among a macho culture that’s unfriendly and excludes them,” wrote Tara Weiss on Forbes.
“Since so few are in the upper ranks, there aren’t female mentors to guide women through challenges and support them for promotions.”
May 24 marks the 40th anniversary of the phrase “glass ceiling”. Even though the ceiling is still there, things are changing. As Hillary Clinton said in 2008 after she failed her first presidential bid, “Although we weren’t able to break that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”
And with Zhang winning her award, one more crack has been added to the ceiling.