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Not a Good View

According to a recent survey, some two-thirds of Europeans don't think women are cut out to be scientists.

The L'Oréal Foundation surveyed some 5,000 people from Germany, the UK, France, Spain, and Italy. An additional 1,000 people from China were also included. The survey asked participants a number of questions, ranging from what job they first think of when told someone works in science to describing what a typical scientist looks like to them to what jobs they think women are best suited for.

Eighty-nine percent of the European respondents, both men and women, said women have the highest aptitude for "everything except [the] sciences." That number jumped to 98 percent for the Chinese respondents. Still, survey-takers noted that cultural factors are the biggest hindrance to women becoming high-level scientists.

"These figures are truly dismal," Athene Donald, an experimental physicist at the University of Cambridge, writes at the Guardian.

Despite this, she adds that the respondents still thought that more women work in the sciences than actually do. The respondents estimated that women hold more than a quarter of the highest scientific academic positions within the European Union, when women really only hold 11 percent of those spots.

The L'Oréal Foundation, which supports women in science through fellowships and which awarded Donald its 2009 L'Oreal/Unesco Laureate for Europe, has launched a new campaign, called 'Change the Numbers.' With Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn as its spokesperson, the campaign seeks to encourage more girls and women to enter the sciences.