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Posted On: 15 February 2022 05:00 pm
Updated On: 15 February 2022 04:37 pm

Arij Yehya, Qatar-based scientist who received an award by L’Oréal-UNESCO

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QV_Arij Yehya_L'oreal Unesco for women in science

On 10 February 2022, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science celebrated the achievements of 14 Arab female scientists from the MENA region by way of honoring and recognizing them for their groundbreaking research in the fields of Life and Environmental Sciences, Physical sciences, Mathematics, and Computer sciences.

The women were each awarded in the PhD students and post-doctorate researchers categories for their roles in solving some of today’s challenges, as well as inspiring the future generation of females.

One of the awardees is Qatar-based Arij Yehya for her research on identifying factors that drive the widening of the gender gap in personality traits to further evaluate current and future gender policies.

Arij is determined to achieve her scientific pursuits, particularly in further advancing knowledge in the field of psychology. Let's get to know a little more about her project and her message to the next generation of change-makers.

ILQ: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Arij: My name is Arij Yehya, I am 31 years old. I am Lebanese and have been living in Qatar for 9 years. I currently work at the Core Curriculum Program at Qatar University as an instructor for first-year students, teaching them skills to successfully complete college studies. Concurrently, I take part in research on mental health, personality and culture.

ILQ: What is the L’Oréal-Unesco For Women In Science program and its importance?

Arij: L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science program aims to promote promising and successful female scientists. The program provides financial support to current researchers to complete their studies. The program also attempts to inspire the younger generation to choose scientific careers by exposing them to winners who are at different stages in their research journey.

This program is important as it empowers women across the scientific fields to become successful within their area of expertise. Many winners of this program have gone on to earn the Nobel Prize in Sciences.

ILQ: How do you feel about receiving the award and representing Qatar?

Image credit: L’Oréal Middle East

Arij: I am honored to receive this award. Living in Qatar provided me with many opportunities that would not be possible had I lived elsewhere. I am grateful to be able to achieve my scientific pursuits in this country. I feel that this award is an acknowledgment of my hard work throughout the years.

ILQ: Tell us about your research project and how will it benefit Qatar and the world?

Arij: I was granted the award based on the research I am pursuing. The research studies a phenomenon that is not intuitive. Gender differences are known to exist in personality traits and that has been shown. Intuitively, we would expect that in cultures with higher human development, the differences between genders will be narrower. However, studies show the exact opposite. The gender gap in personality traits in these highly developed countries is wider.

In my research, I try to find out why this is happening by working with respected researchers across the globe to assess gender differences in personality traits within and across cultures, including Germany, Switzerland, the United States, and Qatar. The aim of the research is to further build on our knowledge regarding the interaction of culture and personality traits in an attempt to further advance the field of psychology.

ILQ: What is your assessment of the scientific research and development in Qatar?

Arij: In Qatar, the presence of many funding opportunities for research is the driving force that has enhanced scientific development over the last decades. Along with esteemed researchers within and outside Qatar, I was awarded the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) funding and that was a major milestone in my research career. I believe it is through these offered opportunities that we see growing high-quality research from Qatar nowadays.

ILQ: Do you have a message for students and young women who aspire to work on the same research as yours?

Image credit: L’Oréal Middle East

Arij: Psychology is one of the scientific fields that attempts to learn more about human behavior. The field is fast-growing and much is yet to be discovered. I recommend this field to anyone who has the intrinsic motivation to help other people and make a change. We try in this field to understand and protect individuals from harm and support the mental health of our community.

More so, psychology teaches the individual communication skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, practical thinking, and many other transferable skills that would help them succeed in many professional jobs that are non-major specific.

ILQ: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

Arij: This successful accomplishment would not have been possible without the support of my husband, parents, and mentors. They constantly encourage me to achieve my goals. I am thankful for all they do to help me follow my passion.

Read: Two scientists from Qatar honored at L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science ceremony

Cover image credit: L’Oréal Middle East