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Robert Tindwa, recipient of the L'Oréal Excellence Award

  • Robert Tindwa ©Elisabeth Brunet / Sciences PoRobert Tindwa ©Elisabeth Brunet / Sciences Po

Robert Tindwa started as an undergraduate on the Sciences Po Reims Campus. Today he is a Master's student and the recipient of the L'Oréal Excellence Award Africa. Read the interview.

Tell us a little about your background. What are your aspirations?

I am half Zimbabwean, half Kenyan and I grew up in Zimbabwe. Before coming to Sciences Po as an undergraduate, I got my International Baccalaureate (IB diploma) at United World College in Swaziland, a small kingdom in Southern Africa. My long-term goal is to acquire the range of expertise and soft skills I will need to grow professionally, so I can use my skills in an enlightened and responsible way in the era of increasing digitalisation, globalisation and climate change-related challenges.

You chose to apply to the Europe-Africa programme on the Reims campus. Why is that, and what did you get out of it?

I chose the Europe-Africa programme for two main reasons.

First, the academic rigour and originality of the curriculum appealed to me. Euraf was a rare opportunity to complete a bilingual degree programme and learn a third language, not to mention the compulsory year abroad. Who would refuse such a great opportunity? It was also a chance to study important (and often delicate) issues objectively and from a long-term perspective. That was very important to me.

Second, I wanted to be surrounded by the sort of people who would be interested in this kind of programme. I knew I would learn a lot outside the classroom, especially with such a diverse student body. I certainly don’t regret my choice. I learned so much over the last two years, from the importance of teamwork to the need to develop and nurture your critical thinking skills. The experience also broadened my horizons and helped me get to know myself better. More importantly, I made some very good friends over the two years and I am proud to have been part of this exceptional, unique programme.

You have a scholarship from the L’Oréal Group for the duration of your Master’s programme. How will this help you with your studies? What relationship do you have with your sponsor?

I will be eternally grateful to L’Oréal for awarding me this scholarship. In terms of my studies, it has helped me gain perspective and given me a lot of prospects. I am currently doing a Master’s in Economics & Business at the School of Management and Innovation. The programme questions the role of business in today’s connected world. It is a great help for me to have the support of L’Oréal’s leaders, who truly embody the company’s values and vision. I believe that that kind of support and personal commitment play a key role in training tomorrow’s leaders.

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Have you heard about the Welcome Programme ?

Deadline for registration is 22 june 2018
  • Welcome Programme 2017 Participants ©WP team leaders / Sciences PoWelcome Programme 2017 Participants ©WP team leaders / Sciences Po

What is the Welcome Programme?

The Welcome Programme is an integration week for exchange students which will be held in the campus of Paris from 24 to 31 August 2018 and which will offer you the possibility of:

  • Learning the methodology of Sciences Po
  • Understanding French political life
  • Knowing Sciences Po and its functioning
  • Discovering Paris in the best conditions
  • Meeting other international students of more than 50 different nationalities

What are the highlights of the Welcome Programme?

  • An opening ceremony accompanied by a welcome breakfast
  • Workshops on the working methodology, in French and English, to integrate more effectively into the pedagogy of Sciences Po
  • A conference on French political life in French and English
  • Information sessions on housing, administrative registrations, residence cards and student associations
  • Campus visits and an "escape game" in the library
  • Cultural activities: Orsay Museum, discovery of Paris, boat tours on La Seine, wine and cheese tasting
  • Integration activities: Ice breakers, French-speaking times, ...

How to register?

If you wish to participate in the Welcome Programme, you can register on your Sciences Po student account.

The deadline for registration is 22 June 2018.

Please note that this programme is optional and costs 250 euros.

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Welcome Programme for exchange students on the Paris campus.

"My world view has been entirely shaken"

Isabel O’Brien is the recipient of the 2018 Henri de Castries scholarship
  • Isabelle O'Brien ©Krystof StupkaIsabelle O'Brien ©Krystof Stupka

Isabel O’Brien, first year student in the Dual BA Program between Sciences Po and Columbia University, has been awarded the 2018 Henri de Castries scholarshipBelow is an excerpt of her personal statement

"My father lived in Oswego his whole life, as did his father, as did my great-grandfather before him. When I meet a stranger who has never heard of Oswego (and, to be frank, most people haven’t), the first way I describe my hometown is through numbers — 18,000 people, 300 inches of snow each winter, 25% of the population below the poverty line, and just one hour’s drive from the Canadian border.

Still, there are a lot of things that numbers don’t say. I can express that Oswego is small, but it’s hard to explain to outsiders the quietness of Oswego, and its stillness. I’ll state that Oswego is snowy, but I can’t explain the cyclicality of the seasons — the five-month winter, the muddy spring, the mild summer and ephemeral fall, which come and go each year eerily unchanging, just like they did the year before. I can claim that Oswego is poor, but it’s hard to explain the way that our one bookstore is always empty, but the bars which litter nearly every street corner are always full, no matter what day of the week it is.

At the age of eighteen, I got on a plane and bid Oswego goodbye. Unlike many of my friends, I wasn’t staying in Upstate New York, not even the tri-state area. I was heading to France.

To make an eighteen-year-long story short, my ‘‘academic interest,’’ or rather, my passion, is travel. Not just in the literal sense, with planes, trains, and automobiles, but travel through experience. Reading was the first type of travel I experienced, and I often wonder what could have happened to me had I not read as a child. I was always fascinated by something new, whether it be the French Revolution one month or Ancient China the next. I would devour books at what felt like the speed of light, being taken places that I could only dream of going to. 

And then I came to Sciences Po. Today, my best friends are from all over the world — from China to Colombia to, of course, France. The amount that I’ve learned from them in the past eight months is too much to describe in a 1,500-word essay. Nonetheless, my world view has been entirely shaken. The globe to me now is simultaneously both bigger and smaller than how I saw it less than a year ago.

I’ve met people from what feels like everywhere. I see their issues as more nuanced and complicated than I originally did. I see their struggles and their politics and know that, even if I study them my whole life, I will never truly understand it the way they do. Yet, I know there is an inherent similarity between us, and on campus it stretches beyond our obsessions with politics and social sciences. As a child, people who lived abroad were a fascination that I read about in books, incomprehensible and insurmountable in their differences from my own way of life. Now I see that, at the very core of it all, we have the same goals, the same fears. The world is complicated, diverse, and different, but at their very core, people are not."

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Sciences Po, 17th most international university in the world

Times Higher Education World Rankings
  • International students ©Martin Argyroglo / Sciences PoInternational students ©Martin Argyroglo / Sciences Po

The Times Higher Education World Rankings released its International Student Table 2018, a ranking of the top 200 universities in the world in terms of percentage of international students. Sciences Po comes in at 17th in the world and 1st in France in this ranking, with 44.9% international students of over 150 nationalities in the student body.

Sciences Po has had an international policy since its founding in 1872. With over 470 partner universities, Sciences Po stands for open-minded education and an outward vision of a complex world.

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Lifting the barriers to women entrepreneurship

A new Chair at Sciences Po
  • Female student receiving her diploma ©Sciences PoFemale student receiving her diploma ©Sciences Po

Whether setting up a new business, negotiating a pay rise or taking on more responsibility in the workplace, women can be supported in reaching leadership positions. Sciences Po's new Women in Business Chair aims to improve understanding of the obstacles women face and spearhead action to remove them. Interview with Anne Boring, researcher in charge of the Chair. Anne’s work focuses on the analysis of gender inequalities in the professional world.

Anne Boring, the idea for this chair began with an observation: that fewer female students at Sciences Po are involved in creating start-ups than their male counterparts...

Yes, the idea was sparked three years ago when I was doing research for PRESAGE, Sciences Po's Gender Research and Academic Programme. Maxime Marzin, Director of the Sciences Po Business Incubator, told me about a phenomenon she had observed: that female students at Sciences Po are less involved in the creation of start-ups than their male counterparts. This is despite the fact that 50% of the two to three hundred students attending the introductory course in entrepreneurship each year are women, whose results are good and on par with those of the men. This phenomenon can also be observed outside of Sciences Po. For example, only 26% of the beneficiaries of National Student Entrepreneur Status (figures 2015-2016) are women. Our interest in this anomaly led us to travel to Stanford, USA, to study best practices in Silicon Valley. We returned to Sciences Po with the idea of creating a Chair, whose aim would be to lift the barriers to the development of women's entrepreneurial and professional ambitions.

Have you identified any of the specific barriers that hold women back from starting up a business? 

Along with Alessandra Cocito, who founded a start-up and teaches at the Centre for Entrepreneurship, I’ve been interviewing female Sciences Po students to find out what prevents them from taking the plunge. The main obstacles that we’ve identified are a lack of self-confidence, an absence of belief in their own credibility, difficulty managing risks, less appetite for competition, scarcity of female role models, qualms about public speaking, and a sense of isolation when operating in an environment where women are very much the minority. More broadly speaking, these are also the barriers to women taking up leadership positions within companies.

How will the Chair be linked to teaching at Sciences Po?  

The Chair is intended to work with the different Sciences Po entities: the Undergraduate College; the various Masters programmes; PRESAGE and the Careers Service. In particular, the Chair is intended to develop a better understanding of which competencies female students need to develop to prepare female students for the obstacles they are likely to come up against. Research shows that women tend not to develop as many of the core skills in the workplace as men, including some soft skills. To give an example that might seem a bit caricatured but is described in the research, let’s consider the so-called ‘good female student’. During her studies she’ll keep a relatively low profile, she won’t speak up a lot in class and is unlikely to advertise or promote her abilities. Social norms and conventions often value modesty among women. However, once women enter the job market, making their skills and competencies known becomes essential to progressing in their careers. Women find themselves at a disadvantage to men who are more used to speaking up, making their voices heard, and putting themselves forward. 

How will your work have an impact?

Our work will have an impact through research, training, and improved dissemination of good practices. On the research side, the objective is to forge collaborations with researchers in the areas of economics, sociology and psychology, to create new teaching strategies and workshops designed to empower women. The Chair will also inform the wider public about effective ways of fostering entrepreneurship and promoting women's leadership. It is this combination that makes the programme particularly innovative: offering new teaching based upon the research and becoming a resource for all institutions wishing to establish teaching programmes. Our effectiveness in this area will have been proven by a scientific approach.

You have previously said that institutions are often misguided in their attempts to facilitate women’s access to positions of responsibility and that the effect of some initiatives is actually counterproductive.

Companies understand that it is in their interest to have more women in positions of responsibility. Their intentions are generally well-meaning and some companies go as far as establishing specific initiatives. However,  the research shows that some of these initiatives can be counterproductive; they may even contribute to strained working relations between women and men, and in some cases reduce promotion opportunities for women. Furthermore, there is a notable lack of communication between researchers studying these issues and the companies themselves. This Chair is also intended to improve the information companies receive about initiatives whose impact has been evaluated scientifically.

Does the Chair aim to bring about lasting changes in attitudes?

As an economist, I don’t necessarily seek to change attitudes, but I do want to inform decision-making, for example by improving understanding of how women's career choices are shaped. Research shows that women tend to choose studies that lead to careers that are less well-paid and have inferior career development prospects. These choices are largely influenced by gender stereotypes and a lack of information. If women better understood how these stereotypes influence their choices, and if they were better informed about the consequences of their choices, they might make career decisions that are better aligned with their true ambitions. My objective is the following: to help women achieve their own individual ambitions.
 
The Women in Business Chair was created at the initiative of the Sciences Po Centre for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Sciences Po Interdisciplinary Laboratory for the Evaluation of Public Policies (LIEPP) and the Gender Research and Academic Programme (PRESAGE). It is supported by the CHANEL Foundation and Goldman Sachs.

Anne Boring is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam and associate researcher at LIEPP and PRESAGE. Her work has a particular focus on econometric analyses of gender inequalities in higher education and the world of work.

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