Late Female Scientists Have a Noble Message to Share

February 11th marks the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day dedicated to ladies and the critical role they play in science and technology. Given that many women are not applauded enough for their scientific work, The Womanity Foundation — an organization that fights towards accelerating gender equality through innovative investments — found a clever way to give underrepresented female scientists a chance to speak about not only their achievements but also to send a female-empowering message to the next generation of women in science.

To commemorate this day and wanting to inspire ladies to pursue a career in science, the organization launched “The Noble Speech,” a campaign created together with the award-winning agency TBWARAAD that taps into technology to resurrect two female scientists to finally give their Nobel Prize acceptance speeches. Despite their substantial contributions in their respective fields, their male counterparts were the ones to receive the admirations and honors.

Dr. Esther Lederberg was a member of a team of scientists who pioneered microbial genetics. The American scientist struggled for her discoveries to be recognized and even though she accomplished so much in the field of microbiology, the subsequent Nobel Prize was given to her male counterpart. Depicted as a Nobel laureate, she dedicates her Nobel Prize acceptance speech to a noble cause. Check out what she has to say in the video below.

Another female who was not treated fairly was Dr. Lise Meitner, an Austrian physicist who led the team that discovered nuclear fission. Praised by Albert Einstein as the “German Marie Curie,” the scientist received many awards late in her life. Yet, the prestigious Nobel Prize for nuclear fission was awarded to her collaborator, Otto Hahn. More than half a century has passed since the physicist died. Today, however, she is finally able to give the award’s acceptance speech, marking the occasion with yet another noble act that she hopes will help bring the gender gap in science closer to an end.

The list of women whose work has not been recognized with this award includes for more women: Frieda Robscheit-Robbins (pathologist); Marietta Blau (physicist); Chien-Shiung Wu (physicist), and Jocelyn Bell Burnell (astrophysicist) — were denied the Nobel Prize due to their gender. What would have been the outcome of their professional lives if they had been men? Or, to ask this question in another way, how many of us would have heard of Einstein if he had been a woman? Well, her name would hardly sound familiar to us today, and that’s because of the Matilda effect.

Dr. Lederberg and Dr. Meitner never had a chance to give their acceptance speech. Until now. Thanks to the power of technology, these two female scientists were brought back to life to finally give their Noble speeches. Yes, you read that right: Noble not Nobel. To make this possible and depict them as Nobel laureates, the team analyzed previous award ceremonies and asked the cast to wear their hair to resemble the hairstyles that were on trend in the years the scientists should have won their prize.

Traditional deep-face algorithms need a large data set of sources in order to replace a target with success. Using the selected scientists’ available photos, the team at Studio Nuts was able to recreate the women’s faces in CGI. Then, the resulting 3D faces were interpolated into the algorithm, developing face replacements from only one source image. For the speeches to sound as authentic as possible, the team used the scientists’ own words and quotes, which were extracted from press articles, interviews, notes, books, and academic work.

“For The Womanity Foundation, The Noble Speech helps draw the public’s attention to the striking problem of gender inequality in the sciences and drive change. The Noble Speech is an invitation to all young girls out there, who are hearing these women at last, to seek a career in science and make a lasting impact — just like these women did,” concludes the organization.

The campaign is supported by two videos presenting the two women scientists giving their speeches, a “Making of Film,” and a microsite, where users can find out more about the project and what can be done to tackle gender inequality.

Credits:

Client: The Womanity Foundation

Agency: TBWARAAD

Producer: Nelly Chahwan

Executive Creative Director: Alex Pineda

Art Director: Hugo Agostinho

Associate Creative Director Copywriter: Maian Alken

Studio: Nuts

Creative Director: Tico Moraes

Production Director: Valeria Lima

Project Director: Janaína Villas-Bôas

Project Manager: Letícia Costa

CGI Artist: Cristiano Porfírio, Marco Nogueira e Ricardo Neto

Creative Retoucher: Thiago Storino

3D Animation: João Figueiras

Animation look dev, rend and post-production: Kim Mendonça

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