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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE 1 1970-2000: A Less Than Golden Age for Women in Chemistry? Margaret W. Rossiter Cornell University It is a pleasure to be here with you today, especially since historians rarely get to address chemists, even young ones. By way of introduction I should say that I was briefly (until midway through my sophomore year) a chemistry major, thanks to a very enjoyable course and textbook by Professor Harry Sisler, who made chemistry seem beautiful. But then in sophomore year Professor Louis Fieser made organic chemistry seem monotonous—I could not stay interested in all those ways you can turn an aldehyde into a ketone. The history of science was for me a much better subject, and I have been at it ever since. While in graduate school at Yale University in the early 1970s, when the women's liberation movement was all around us, I asked the professors in my department (History of Science and Medicine, since discontinued) at one of our Friday afternoon beer parties if there had ever been any women scientists. Certainly none had ever been mentioned in any of our courses. The answer was no, there had never been any. Not even Madame Curie who had won two Nobel Prizes? No, she had been a mere drudge who stirred the pitchblende for her husband's experiments. Such was the state of knowledge (or ignorance or even prejudice) and authority then. Later, after I had completed my degree, I determined to see for myself if there had ever been any women scientists of any sort—and, as they say, the rest is history.1 Nowadays you do not have to look far to discover that there have been a lot of women chemists in the past.2 For our purposes today we can start with Anna Jane Harrison (1912 to 1998) of Mount 1 Margaret W. Rossiter, “Writing the History of Science,” in Jonathan Monroe, ed., Writing Across the Curriculum (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, forthcoming).
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE Holyoke College, who in 1978 was the first woman elected president of the American Chemical Society. She did this on her third try (having run against Nobelist Glenn Seaborg in her first attempt and a black chemist, Henry Hill, in her second). It had taken over a hundred years (the society was established in 1876) for this “first,” although women had been members from the start, or nearly so, and had been heads of sections since Icie Macy Hoobler chaired the Detroit section in 1930.3 Yet until the mid-1970s there had not been a woman president. Since then there have been others. By 1978 Harrison was finishing her term on the National Science Board, to which she had been appointed by Richard Nixon in 1972. In the 1980s, she was the fourth woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the first woman chemist). Thus she was one of the very few women scientists of the 1970s and 1980s to play much of a role in the whole enterprise that is called “science policy.” She even ran a meeting on international science at Mount Holyoke (a women's college) in the mid-1980s.4 Besides Harrison, and in a sense following in her footsteps, was and is Mary Good (1931- ), who has worked in all three sectors of academia, industry, and government. She was both a member and chair of the National Science Board (a possible first for womankind) and was president of the American Chemical Society in 1987. Recently she stepped down as undersecretary in the Commerce Department. She is also rare in having held presidential appointments from three U.S. presidents—Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.5 Coming along behind her would be Marye Anne Fox, who served in the 1990s in what may be a seat for Southern women on the National Science Board and who is now, after many years at the University of Texas, the chancellor of North Carolina State University.6 So by now—the year 2000—there have been a few women chemists in top and highly visible and responsible places in the United States. An internationally renowned achievement for women was the winning of the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1988 by Gertrude Elion of Glaxo Wellcome in North Carolina.7 No woman chemist had done this since biochemist Gerty T. Cori, who shared the physiology Nobel with her husband and Bernardo Houssay in 1947. (Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911, her daughter Irene shared it with her husband in 1935, and Englishwoman Dorothy Hodgkin won it in 2 For starters, try Jane Miller, “Women in Chemistry,” in G. Kass-Simon and Patricia Farnes, eds., Women of Science, Righting the Record (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990), pp. 300-334, and Maureen M. Julian, “Women in Crystallography,” ibid., pp. 335-383; Louise S. Grinstein, Rose K. Rose, and Miriam H. Rafailovich, eds., Women in Chemistry and Physics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993); and Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, eds., Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997). 3 On women in the American Chemical Society, see Margaret W. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (1982) (hereinafter WSA, vol. 1), pp. 78-79, and Margaret W. Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action, 1940-1972 (1995) (hereinafter WSA, vol. 2), pp. 305, 306-307, 309, 310, and 421n5. The ACS has also employed women, p. 472n43. See also the delightful autobiography of Icie Gertrude Macy Hoobler, Boundless Horizons: Portrait of a Pioneer Woman Scientist (Smithtown, NY: Exposition Press, 1982). 4 Carole B. Shmurak, “Anna Jane Harrison (1912- ), Chemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 172-176; also, obituary in Boston Globe, August 12, 1998; “UN Panel Hits Technology's Impact on Women,” Chemical & Engineering News (hereafter C&EN) 61(September 26, 1983), p. 7; and Shirley M. Malcom et al., eds., Science, Technology and Women: A World Perspective, AAAS Publication 85-14 (Washington, DC: AAAS, 1985). Harrison's papers are at Mount Holyoke College. On Mount Holyoke and other alma maters of women chemists, see Alfred E. Hall, “Baccalaureate Origins of Doctorate Recipients in Chemistry, 1920-1980,” Journal of Chemical Education 62 (1985), pp. 406-408. 5 Ellen Horn Stanley, “Mary Lowe Good (1931- ), Chemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 148-153; and American Men and Women of Science (hereafter AMWS), 19th ed. (1995-96), vol. 3, p. 266. 6 Fox in AMWS, 19th ed. (1995-96), vol. 2, p. 1409. 7 Marilyn McKinley Parrish, “Gertrude Belle Elion (1918- ), Biochemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 84-88; and Richard Kent and Brian Huber, “Obituary, Gertrude Belle Elion (1918-99), Pioneer of Drug Discovery, ” Nature 398 (April 1, 1999), p. 380.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE 1964.8 Crystallographer Isabella Karle came close when her husband and long-time collaborator shared it with Herbert Hauptman in 1985.9) A case could be made that the last 30 years have been a kind of Golden Age for women in science and possibly even for chemistry—golden, that is, when compared to earlier years.10 There are more women than ever before getting degrees in science and in a wider variety of scientific fields than ever before. Even fields like oceanography, forestry, or nuclear engineering that had once banned women outright now have many women degree holders. Women scientists are also holding a wider variety of jobs than ever before. A few are being promoted to head various organizations and institutions. This is also true of women in general. There are women cabinet secretaries at State, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor, two women on the Supreme Court, nine women senators, and several women heads of major foundations. But despite Harrison, Good, and Fox, not many of these other top women have been chemists—yet, anyway. And certainly they are not in proportion to their numbers, as all fields of science have been getting more feminized, from entry levels on up to top honors, although at different rates from each other. On the other hand, over the last three decades, women chemists have been more notable for their unusually high rate of suicides and their several lawsuits—two signs of serious discontent—than for their successes.11 So maybe this has not been such a Golden Age for women chemists as it has for some other American women, but more one of silver, or bronze or tin, or lead or some other metal in the periodic table. Various ways to document this mixed situation are documented below. DIFFERENTIAL RATES OF CHANGE Since we are assembled here today in the building of the National Academy of Sciences, one way to depict the mixed situation is to consider the number of women elected to the Academy. Between 1923 —itself 60 years after the founding of the Academy during the Civil War—and 1970, ten women had been elected, including biochemist and Nobelist Gerty T. Cori. Ten women members in over 100 years is better than one woman president of the ACS, but it is still barely a trickle. 12 After 1970 the situation improved notably, as shown in Table 1.1. Of the 60 persons who are elected each year, there 8 Miriam Rossi, “Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994), Crystallographer,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 181-186; and Georgina Ferry, Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life (New York: Granta Books, 1998). On Lise Meitner, a famous near-Nobelist, see Clara C. Callahan, “Lise Meitner (1878-1968), Physicist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 263-268; and Ruth Sime, Lise Meitner, A Life in Physics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996). 9 Janet Owens, “Isabella L. Karle (1921- ), Crystallographer,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 217-222. The Karles' daughter, Louise Karle Hanson, a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, regretted that her mother, who had shared her father 's work for so many years, had not been included in the award (John Noble Wilford, “Jerome Karle,” New York Times, October 17, 1985, p. 17). 10 Historians apply the term “golden age” retrospectively to a period of great accomplishment, creativity, and opportunity. If alive during such a stretch, one is generally too busy to use the term for a situation that seems normal, but as the good times wane for whatever reason—the funding runs out, the institute closes, the great mentor dies—some begin to perceive a sense of ending and closure, somewhat like a closed parenthesis, that needs a suitable name. 11 “Women Chemists Mortality Study Finds High Suicide Rate,” C&EN 62 (April 23, 1984), pp. 16-17. See also Molly Gleiser, “Suicide Among Women Chemists,” Nature 328 (July 2, 1987), p. 10. She tells her own vivid tale of an unhappy career at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Molly Gleiser, “The Glass Wall,” in Anna Pattatucci, ed., Women in Science, Meeting Career Challenges (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998), pp. 204-218. 12 Rossiter, WSA, vol. 1, pp. 285-288, and vol. 2, pp. 326-327.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE TABLE 1.1 Women Elected to the National Academy of Sciences Year Biological Sciences Physical Sciences Social Sciences Math/Statistics 1970 2 0 0 0 1971 1 0 1 0 1972 1 1 0 0 1973 3 0 0 0 1974 2 0 0 0 1975 1 1 3 1 1976 1 0 0 1 1977 3 0 1 0 1978 2 2 1 0 1979 3 0 0 0 1980 1 0 0 0 1981 2 1 0 0 1982 1 0 0 0 1983 4 0 0 0 1984 4 0 0 0 1985 2 2 0 0 1986 1 1 0 0 1987 0 0 1 1 1988 2 0 2 0 1989 2 0 2 0 1990 3 1 1 1 1991 3 1 1 0 1992 1 3 1 0 1993 3 1 1 1 1994 4 3 1 0 1995 3 1 1 0 1996 7 1 2 1 1997 3 3 1 0 1998 6 0 1 1 1999 5 2 1 1 2000 3 1 2 2 SOURCE: M. Rossiter; data taken from National Academy of Sciencesmembership lists. has been at least 1 woman chosen each year and as many as 11 in one year. But what is of interest here is the distribution of scientific disciplines of these women as well as their number. Of the 138 women elected since 1970, 79, or by far the majority, have been in biological fields, including biochemistry. (But even there, Gertrude B. Elion was not elected until 1990, 2 years after sharing the Nobel Prize.) Only 25 of the women have been in the physical sciences, and only 6 of these in chemistry or crystallography: Isabella L. Karle, JoAnne Stubbe, Alexandra Navrotsky, Marye Anne Fox, Judith P. Klinman, and Sylvia T. Ceyer.13 13 Some, but astonishingly not all of these, are in AMWS.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE TABLE 1.2 Women Elected to the National Academy of Engineering Decade Section 1970 1980 1990 2000 Aerospace 0 2 0 0 Bioengineering 0 0 0 1 Chemical engineering 0 0 2 1 Civil engineering 0 0 1 0 Computer science 2 3 5 1 Electric power/energy systems engineering 0 0 1 0 Electronics 2 3 2 1 Operating systems 0 0 4 0 Materials 0 3 5 0 Mechanical engineering 0 0 3 0 Petroleum, mining, geological 0 0 2 1 Interdisciplinary 2 3 3 0 SOURCE: M. Rossiter; data taken from National Academy of Engineeringmembership lists. In the 1970s there appears to have been much making up for past omissions: in Academy elections many of the women elected were well along in years, often at or past retirement. Lately, however, they have been younger—even in their forties—closer in age to the men being chosen, a sign that they are realistic candidates in their prime years. Election to the NAS in their still-active years also makes the women more powerful figures on their campuses and across the nation. For the sake of the chemical engineers present, we should next consider the National Academy of Engineering (Table 1.2), which was not established until 1965 but currently has three women (out of 164, or 1.8 percent) in its chemical engineering section —Elisabeth M. Drake, Johanna Levelt Sengers, and Shirley E. Schwartz. In addition, there are several women chemists and chemical engineers who are (or were) members of other engineering sections, such as Edith Flanigen, Mary Good, Elsa Reichmanis, Della Roy, Maxine Savitz, Kathleen Taylor, Nancy Fitzroy, and the deceased Judith Schwan.14 Thus what might be called the premier “reward structure” for American scientists and engineers, academic or otherwise, does not seem to be working very well for women chemists and chemical engineers. Of the many thousands who have earned degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, hardly any are being elected to the top honors in the land. Since 1970, there has been a tremendous rise in the numbers and percentages of women earning degrees, including Ph.D.s, in chemistry in the United States. Much of these data for the early years were collected by Betty Vetter, who died a few years ago. She was trained as a chemist (with a master's degree from Stanford in the late 1940s) but made a career out of the new field of science manpower statistics. She worked for over 30 years at what is now called the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology,15 some of whose voluminous data are presented in Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2, Figure 1.3, and 14 Rossiter, WSA, vol. 2, p. 326. 15 Vetter in AMWS, 19th ed. (1995-96), vol. 7, p. 399. American chemists have been studied more extensively and quantitatively than scientists in other fields, because the ACS has conducted frequent surveys of salaries, degrees, and other factors.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE FIGURE 1.1 Women Ph.D.s in science. SOURCE: Commission on Scientific and Technical Personnel Tables, 2-16 and 6-1; data derived from National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Degrees, 1966-96, and Science and Engineering Doctorate Awards: 1998. Figure 1.4. Figure 1.1 shows the rising proportions of Ph.D.s going to women in several areas of science and engineering since the 1960s. It is quite remarkable. One thing to notice is that overall the fields that were the most feminized in 1970 or so still are. Psychology and biochemistry (not shown) tolerated 14 to 18 percent women Ph.D.s back then and still have the highest proportions today. Near the bottom of the chart there have been some changes in rank order. Engineering was and still is at the bottom, but agricultural and earth sciences (not shown) have moved up a bit as doors have opened to women in those fields. As for women in chemistry, they had by the early 1990s moved up to 25 percent of the Ph.D.s, and today (2000) the proportion is over 30 percent. One final consequence to note from this chart is a generational change. Someone who got his or her doctorate in 1970 or 1980, who might now be a full professor or in management and who persists in thinking the world of graduate students is still pretty much like it was back then, can be seriously out of touch with current realities. This is important because it is astonishing what a large role autobiography plays in management and personnel matters. Figure 1.2 and Figure 1.3 provide more detailed data, by year and by subfield, on chemical and engineering degrees. The numbers of women earning doctorates in chemistry over the last three decades was growing not only because of a rise in the number of women entering the field but also because of a drop
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE FIGURE 1.2 Women chemists. NOTE: 1995 “decade” includes only 1990 to 1998. “Other” includes agricultural and food chemistry; “physical” includes nuclear and theoretical chemistry. SOURCE: Commission on Scientific and Technical Personnel, Table 6-11; data derived from National Science Foundation, Survey of Earned Doctorates 1960-1998. FIGURE 1.3 Women engineers. SOURCE: Commission on Scientific and Technical Personnel, Table 7-1; data derived from National Science Foundation, Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1998.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE FIGURE 1.4 Women chemical engineers. NOTE: 1990 “decade” includes only 1990 to 1998 for Ph.D.s, 1990 to 1997 for B.S. and M.S. degrees. SOURCE: Commission on Scientific and Technical Personnel, Tables 7-1, 7-04, and 7-05; data derived from National Science Foundation, Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1998. in the number of men majoring in chemistry. The total number of Ph.Ds being awarded to men and women in the physical sciences dropped about one-third in the late 1970s relative to the early 1970s and then rebounded. Thus the total number given now is about the same as it was back in 1970. This should perhaps be an issue of concern to leaders of the field. One might expect there to be some resentments when women become such a rapidly increasing percentage of a pie that is not growing. Chemical engineering has by contrast been growing rapidly at the doctoral level. The numbers of women earning degrees really took off in the 1980s, as shown in Figure 1.4. Currently women are earning about 100 doctorates per year in chemical engineering. Because many chemical engineers still do not need doctorates for full and interesting careers, data are also added here on master's degrees awarded in chemical engineering. CHANGEMAKERS If results were correlated with effort, women chemists would have changed academia a lot more by now than has been the case. Although important legislation was passed in 1972 affecting education and employment, a law is only as strong as its enforcement, and fighting powerful institutions in court can be a slow, expensive, and painful process. Nevertheless some women chemists have been quite active in this area. Recall Sharon Johnson, who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT, was an assistant professor of biochemistry in the medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, and sued her employer
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE in 1973 after her department denied her tenure. The case attracted attention at its outset, when a federal judge issued an injunction prohibiting the university from letting her go before her research grant ran out. This frightened the university's lawyers as well as administrators across the nation, who had no formal evaluation or grievance procedures with which to document their often arbitrary decisions and who were used to having the few personnel matters that led to lawsuits routinely thrown out of court. This pioneering case lasted from 1973 to 1977 because the university, which had superior financial resources, delayed and delayed. (The University of Pittsburgh used at least three and perhaps as many as ten lawyers and spent from $300,000 to $1,000,000 on its defense over 5 years. Johnson and her lawyer, Sylvia Roberts, supported by a loan from the American Chemical Society and donations from the National Organization for Women and the then-new Association for Women in Science (AWIS), persisted through it all, spending under $30,000.) Eventually, in 1977, Johnson lost not on the merits of her case but because the judge finally decided not to intervene in an academic matter. She later joined NIH as a grants administrator, a position that reportedly frightened many academic chemists as it might give her the chance to get revenge by denying them grants.16 Also in the early 1970s, another angry chemist, Shyamala Rajendar, a 1965 Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming, was told that her assistant professorship at the University of Minnesota (which she had finally obtained in 1969 after several other staff positions, including research associate) was not on the tenure track after all. (That distinction was introduced about then; before then, all assistant professorships were assumed to be what is now called tenure track.) She sued, sought, and got class-action status when she showed the pattern was industrywide, and finally in 1980 the university settled out of court with a special master appointed to introduce new practices and oversee some rectification of claims.17 One can't help but speculate that Rajendar's consciousness grew in her years in the remarkable chemistry department at Wyoming, where Sara Jane Rhoads and N. Rebecca Raulins were on the faculty. Rhoads had come to Wyoming in the late 1940s fresh from Columbia University graduate school and was lucky to get any faculty position in a chemistry department at a coeducational university. She devoted her career to building up the department at Wyoming, was one of only two women chemists among the 163 in the entire country to be awarded an NSF senior postdoctoral fellowship between 1956 and 1971,18 and won a few other national awards, including the Garvan Medal of the ACS in 1982.19 Quite aware of inequities in the profession, she may have encouraged young Rajendar to take advantage of the new laws and to fight back. Later on she commented favorably on Rajendar's presentation in 1971 to the Women's Committee of the ACS of the first list of “zeroes,” or data compiled from the 16 Johnson in AMWS, 12th ed. (1972), vol. 3, p. 3076; “Controversy Heats Up over Tenure Policies,” C&EN 51 (April 2, 1973), p. 9; “Injunction Granted in Sexist Tenure Case,” C&EN 51 (June 11, 1973), pp. 2-3; Rebecca L. Rawls, “Female Biochemist Loses Tenure Case,” C&EN (August 15, 1977), p. 22; Constance Holden, “Court Rules Against Woman Biochemist,” Science 197 (19 August 1977), p. 743. Her papers on the case are at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University. 17 Rajendar in AMWS, 12th ed. (1972), vol. 5, p. 5088. See also “Notice of Sex Discrimination Claim Procedures, University of Minnesota Class Action Suit,” Science 210 (November 28, 1980), p. 1055. She left Minnesota, became a patent attorney in San Francisco, and is now retired and living in Danville, California. She might merit a Garvan Medal. (Judith Ann Trolander, “The Effects of Gender Discrimination Litigation on Academia: The Rajendar Consent Decree,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, Toronto, April 1999.) 18 Rossiter, WSA, vol. 2, pp. 318-319. The other was Darleane Hoffman. 19 Rhoads in AMWS, 12th ed. (1972), vol. 5, p. 5206; and “An Interview with Dr. Rhoads and Dr. Raulins,” Wyoming Quarterly 1, no. 4 (Spring 1976), copy in Sara Rhoads Papers, box 1, folder 3, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. Raulins was an instructor at Wyoming who earned her doctorate there in 1953 and was then promoted to the faculty (AMWS, 12th ed. (1972), vol. 5, p. 5124).
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE TABLE 1.3 Number of Women on University Chemistry Faculties in the Academic Year 1969-1970 Number of Women Number of Faculties 0 113 1 41 2 13 3 2 4 0 5 2 6 0 7 1 SOURCE: Chemical & Engineering News, May 10, 1971, p. 21. ACS's list of faculty at graduate departments, where the University of Wyoming ranked relatively high with its two female faculty members. 20 The list turned out to be a useful and long-lasting consciousness-raising device. Sister Agnes Ann Green, I.H.M., longtime chair of the chemistry department at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, updated it annually until the mid-1980s, when others took over.21 A copy of the 1970 version is presented in Table 1.3. It shows that 113 departments had no women chemistry faculty at all. This included Bryn Mawr, Cal Tech (Jacqueline Barton was still an undergraduate at Barnard College),22 Illinois, MIT, and Minnesota (despite Rajendar's title). The only woman at any of the nine campuses of the University of California system was Marjorie Caserio at Irvine.23 The University of California at Berkeley hired its first woman in 1978, and UCLA tenured its first woman (Joan Valentine) in 1980. Jean'ne Shreeve was the lone woman at the University of Idaho, and Madeleine Joullié was the one at the University of Pennsylvania.24 The one woman at the University of Southern California might have been adjunct professor Marjorie Vold, the only woman chemist to get a Guggenheim between 1940 and 1970.25 By contrast, both Brooklyn Polytech and the newly combined Douglass-Rutgers department had four women, and Rockefeller and American Universities each listed three—all relatively high numbers that put them ahead of Wyoming. Since 1970 the number of graduate chemistry departments with no women faculty has dropped to fewer than ten institutions. Some, especially private and Roman Catholic ones, have been helped in the last decade with grants from the Clare Booth Luce Foundation that was established in the mid-1980s. 20 “Few Women in Academia,” C&EN 49 (May 10, 1971), p. 21. 21 Green, in AMWS, 12th ed. (1972), vol. 2, p. 2288. 22 Barton, in AMWS, 19th ed. (1995-1996), vol. 1, p. 422. 23 Nancy Allee, “Marjorie Caserio (1929- ),” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 46-51. 24 Cassandra S. Gissendanner, “Jean'ne Marie Shreeve (1933- ), Chemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp 367-373; and Nina Matheny Roscher, “Madeleine M. Joullié (1927- ), Chemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 212-222. 25 Sharon Sue Kleinman, “Marjorie Jean Young Vold (1913-1991), Colloid Chemist,” in Shearer and Shearer, pp. 401-404.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE But even if most chemistry departments now have their first woman faculty member—a goal that must have seemed Utopian in the early 1970s—this is just the threshold. There is no power in being the only woman, especially if only an assistant professor, who may be temporary; but it can be the first step to more later on. It is just a coincidence but it seems prophetic that academic women chemists have arrived on this threshold at the start of a new millennium. How to bring about more change in the next decade and beyond is what this conference is about. Who should care more about this than women chemists themselves? CONCLUSION We live in interesting times. The proportion of women in many areas of American life—including law, politics, medicine, and science—is increasing, dramatically in some cases. But many fields of science are doing better than chemistry—including many but not all of the social sciences and biology. Chemistry departments are just now getting to the point where almost all have one or more women faculty members. (This may not be the case in chemical engineering departments.) This progress has taken 30 years and still provides just the threshold. When one considers that women have been a rapidly rising proportion of the Ph.D.s awarded in the field for 30 years, there ought to have been more change, but perhaps getting from zero to one is the hardest step. It is time to visualize a future with more women chemists and chemical engineers visibly running things. Not everyone is an Anna Harrison or a Mary Good, but the chemical enterprise is vast and offers challenging tasks at every level. In particular, management is challenging, could be improved at most places, and is well-paying, as every salary survey shows. Maybe in 20 years or preferably sooner, the Chemical Sciences Roundtable will run another conference on the stresses and strains faced by women holding prominent and powerful positions—as presidents of organizations, full professors at major universities, department chairs, deans, and major prizewinners, including more members of the National Academies. Maybe such women will even be using all that visibility and power to make this world a better place. EPILOGUE After attending the meeting at which an earlier version of the above was delivered, I am heartened by the energy and commitment of the women chemists and chemical engineers present. Several have formed a group (Committee on Women in Academic Chemistry, or COACh) to develop their management skills and to push and be ready for bigger opportunities in the future. This is exciting indeed. DISCUSSION Marcetta Darensbourg, Texas A&M: Did the biologists go through such a conscious-raising exercise as the chemists are trying to go through now? Were they in our position at one time and their numbers grew in job positions, or have they always been a part of the workforce? Margaret Rossiter: I think they were angry and feeling excluded about 1970, and they met in little clusters, maybe in laboratories, maybe at meetings, and began to figure out what levers ought to be pushed and what resolutions ought to be passed and began to network. Elizabeth C. Theil, Children's Hospital, Oakland Research Institute: I am a biochemist who was at North Carolina State University for many years. There were always women in biology in lower-level
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE positions. They have always been technicians and lab managers for men, and I think what happened in the 1970s was that there was an awareness that you didn't have to do that anymore. There were the numbers at that point so that they could talk to each other. Yes, they did get together in groups, but one of the reasons they were able to do it was because they had always been there, just in different roles. That is not the case in chemistry. Rosemarie Szostak, Army Environmental Policy Institute: I want to make a comment concerning the legal aspects of this, having gone through the lawsuit route myself. If you have one woman [in a department], legally you are not discriminating. So, I think we may be seeing fewer lawsuits as a way of solving the problem of getting the populations of women in the positions at universities. From the standpoint of having gone through the process—and yes, it takes 4 to 5 years—if the other side, the university, can show that they have one woman in any position, then you cannot show discrimination. That is kind of a legal glitch we have to deal with. Marylee Southard, University of Kansas, Chemical Engineering: What percent of women getting Ph.D.s went to industry and decided not to fight the madness of the academic environment? Margaret Rossiter: I have no idea. There are probably numbers on who goes into industry, and I think I saw a handout. I think our next speaker is going to talk at length about industry, but then I am not sure industry is a golden place either. Nina M. Roscher, American University: I have looked at some of these statistics, and one of the things that looking at the faculty at universities doesn't tell you is that many of the women chemists were in universities but were not in faculty positions. It is only in the 1980s that the number of women going into industry started to correspond percentagewise to men. Back in the 1970s, probably about 55 percent of the women were in academia —but they were in postdoc positions, nonteaching, or no-rank teaching positions. So that is where they were, not industry. Margaret Rossiter: I always used to wonder. They are like lemmings, aren't they? They head to academia. They know they are treated badly, but somehow they are still going there, and somehow it took a while for alternatives to come to their attention. Mary Ellen Murphy, St. Joseph College: I think one of the problems in academia is the fact that department chairs and deans and vice presidents and presidents very often were men, and so the woman probably didn't have much of a chance or much of a voice at the decision-making level. I think it is only more recently that you have somewhat honest search committees, if most places could even say that at this point in time. Having been a dean, I know very well that there is a tremendous prejudice—even on the part of women—that the man is probably going to be better in the stack of applications. So I think that we have to be concerned about trying to get the jobs, but I also think we have to be concerned about having women in some of these higher-level positions where the decisions are finally made. Margaret Rossiter: There was a stage when we had the token woman administrator, and I think she was under a lot of pressure and probably couldn't step forward and do too many drastically different things. She probably had a complicated calculus of what she could do and still hold onto her position. I think some of them had fairly short tenure anyway.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE Sally Chapman, Barnard College: Somebody will probably be showing these data at some point later in this workshop, but I think that it is very interesting to break down chemistry the same way you have broken down science. There are huge disparities in the advancement of women based on what subdivision of chemistry they are in. The ACS Directory of Graduate Research is computer searchable, so you can assemble these numbers very easily compared to the heroic efforts that were required decades ago. If you look at women in organic chemistry, women in physical chemistry, etc., there are fascinating and quite striking differences. Margaret Rossiter: How do you explain that? Sally Chapman: I think there are all sorts of interesting hypotheses. I think organic chemistry is far and away the worst; the number of women in academia who advance to high places in organic chemistry probably can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Physical chemistry, surprisingly, is relatively good. By “surprisingly,” I mean that I am a physical chemist—and when I was a student, I had not expected to see this. When I was in graduate school in the early 1970s, it felt as if we were part of a leading wave of women entering chemistry, and we thought about how this ocean of women would advance. At that point I naively figured that there was a spectrum—from biology, where there were more women, toward physics, where there were fewer. I expected that women in chemistry would be distributed along that particular axis, so physical chemistry would be an area where women did not have as many opportunities. Physical chemistry is actually pretty good. Now, my hypothesis says (and other people can argue differently) that it has to do with a few prominent people in the subdiscipline. I am not going to name names, but there are some organic chemists who are very well known and highly respected—and who are proud misogynists. And there are some physical chemists, major Nobel Prize-winning-level physical chemists, who have gone public caring about women and the status of women. I think that makes a difference; it sets a tone. Now, I don't know whether that is the whole story or if something else is going on, whether it has something to do with the nature of the subdiscipline. But it is very interesting. It would be fun to find out what other people think and what explains some of these differences. Barbara Warren, Union Carbide Corporation: Before the meeting started, Sandra Greer and I were commenting about the fact that physical chemists have done very well compared with organic chemists. It has been discussed among women that this is because the more physical sciences are less subjective and more objective. Therefore, if you are good and you are in physical chemistry, your work speaks for itself, but some other chemistry disciplines are a little bit softer with respect to subjectivity and objectivity. Peter Rabideau, Iowa State University: Before moving to Iowa State, I was dean of science at Louisiana State University. I put an incredible amount of pressure on the chemistry department to look for female candidates because we had no females. I think sometimes females don't want to join departments where there are no females. For example, the chemistry department responded and invited four candidates, three of whom were females, terrific candidates. We liked them all. We made great offers to all of them, and they all turned us down. So I think there is another problem—that it is just difficult when you don't have that environment. A lot of departments find themselves in the situation and are trying to counter it. Linda B. McGown, Duke University: My impression—and this is based just on the searches that I
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE have seen, so it is a very microcosmic sort of impression—is that in certain areas like analytical (which I think has been very open) and physical chemistry, the procedure at the assistant professor level is to go to the applicant's papers, to go to their science and evaluate it. I have noticed that among the more synthetic areas, or just other areas that tend to be more hierarchical, the way they start every search is by contacting their friends, or writing to members of the National Academy if it is for a more senior position. So the input that they are getting is from different places, and that means that they are going to get different suggestions. Now, that is very microcosmic based on experiences at one or two departments, but that first step is certainly going to structure the search. Something interesting that I found among the same more synthetic areas is that once a woman has proven herself—once she is at the higher echelons—she becomes part of a recruitment pool. So women can become a target of opportunity. There seems to be more of a reluctance to take a chance on a female rather than a male candidate at the entry level. I have a feeling it has to do more with the cultures of the different disciplines than with the science. Maryka Bhattacharya, Argonne National Laboratory: There is an area that I hope we can address at this meeting also. That area has to do with the big changes that we have all seen in the percentage of women who are in the student population versus their entry and retention in permanent positions in the professions associated with either university or industry. There is a lag there, I believe, where up to 30 or 40 percent of students may be female now, but when you look to where they are going and the occupations that they are going to, those percentages are changing more slowly. We need to look at what the barriers might be to retaining women in the workforce once they have the degrees, because although the student population has changed, the professions have not changed correspondingly. Why is that? Marjam Behar, National Institutes of Health: I joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, in December 1962 to work with a group of physicians who were doing studies of cerebral blood flow, and they needed a chemist to do their metabolic studies. I didn't have a tenure-track position. As a matter of fact I was not in the faculty track, but as we advanced in the studies (I was there for 17 years), they made me director of the Core Facility for Analytical Chemistry. I had 12 technicians that I supervised and taught. I also taught residents, faculty members, and medical students who needed to learn bioanalytical techniques to pursue their research. I was the chemist in the department, we had a center grant, and I was part of the investigators in the center grant as the director of the Core Facility for Analytical Chemistry. But I was not in the tenure track, and it is difficult for a woman in one of these universities to get in the tenure track. If you are a chemist in a department of a medical school it is even more difficult. These are the things we go through. But even so I had a very pleasant experience doing my research, teaching, and mentoring—mainly the residents but also the technicians, who had their B.S. degrees but had the capability of going further. I encouraged them to go on to graduate school and get their doctorates in the fields of their interest. So you can make the best of a situation, but it was not ideal in the sense that you were not treated the same way as your male colleagues. Margaret Rossiter: In fact, women sometimes find good opportunities. There are bureaucracies that have high prestige positions and people with notions of what is inferior; and then there is the real work to be done—and maybe a lot of it and maybe not well paid—and women can sometimes get into these areas and make a big contribution. But they won't have the big title, and you wonder why the bureau-
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE cracy is set up this way. If the real work is important, shouldn't that be where the focus is? And the good titles and the security? Marjam Behar: Exactly. I continued doing my work, and I still have residents that know me and appreciate what I did and the chemistry I taught them. You can make the best of a situation, but of course it would be much better if you could be on the same level as the men. I came to NIH in 1980, and I have found in my government career that it is better for women. We are usually at the same level as men. I would say maybe for an important promotion there is some preference for men (although we have many women who have gotten there), but in general we have the same grade as men and I think the situation is much better in government. Suzanne E. Franks, Kansas State University: I wanted to make a few comments about trying to recruit women on the faculty and, also, keeping female students in the pipeline so that they can be recruited as faculty. One of the things I have noted over the past year in the position I have now is that search committees are often constituted entirely of men, and they don't put any women on the schedule to meet with a female candidate. So the woman is there all day being interviewed by men and never meets any other women. One might say, “Well, if you don't have any women in your department, then you cannot have women for the candidate to meet with.” However, you can look around elsewhere on campus and find other women for the candidate to meet. If you are starting from this position where you don't have women on the faculty, then it is hard to recruit women —because they want to go where they are already represented. Therefore, you have to be much more creative in your recruiting strategies, and you have to make the case of selling your department as a place where a woman can come and succeed. I think women are now getting to the point where they are saying, “It is not enough for me just to get a job on the faculty. I want a job at a place where I know that I am going to be welcome, where I am going to succeed, and where there are things in place that facilitate women's success.” You need to look around and find out what your university is doing to promote the success of women in the sciences and engineering and make sure you talk about them to your candidates. You need to say, “If you come here, these are all the kinds of things we have going on to make sure that this is a friendly environment for you.” I see the same thing with the women students that I talk with, and we have a very hard time convincing any of our students to go on to graduate school, especially in chemical engineering. We have a hard time convincing them to stay with their major. Some of the things they say to me are, Why do I want to be in this world? It is an unpleasant world. Why do I want to go through all these battles when I could go do something else and make more money? I think we have to recognize that being on the faculty and reaching positions of high prestige, which we might view as very desirable, are not a priori interesting and attractive to the young women whom we might want to groom and bring into the pipeline. We have to find more creative ways of selling them on that as a viable career choice. I speak from my own experience of having gotten a Ph.D. in engineering but wanting to become a faculty member. At one point I decided to say good-bye to all that and go to industry, because I found I was treated better, shown more respect, and given more credit for the work I did. But now I am in the curious position of trying to convince women to follow the path that I chose to leave for a while—because I am not in industry anymore. I think we have to be aware that they may look at what exists out there, at what the environment is like, and say, This is not an appealing place to be. So our job in part has to be to figure out what it is that makes it an appealing place to be—and make sure that we get that message to our young women. We have to market ourselves better.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE Elise G. Megehee, St. John's University: I want to speak to the last comment because last year at this time I was going through the process of looking for a new academic position. Something that really impressed me was that they didn't have any women in the department where I interviewed but they made sure that I met a woman in another department so that I could talk about women 's issues. These were issues such as, What type of day care is provided? How did they treat you? and so on. The ability to ask these kinds of questions really made a big difference in my assessment of the department. The other experience I had was with St. John's when I interviewed there. A young woman had recently had a child, and she was the only woman in the department. There was no maternity leave policy at the school, but members of the department rearranged their own schedules and worked extra so that she would have an entire semester off after her son was born. These are creative ways to get around the system, but I think it is this kind of creativity that can help change the whole attitude of a department. Michael W. Babich, Florida Tech: We had a faculty search this year in organic chemistry, and our search committee was composed entirely of women. I thought we had the whole problem solved. It really looked like things were going to go pretty well until they returned a slate of all men candidates. So, I sent them back to the drawing board and said, Why is this? Where are the women? They showed me the applications—they had 97 applicants for the position, only four of whom were women. As far as I could tell, it was just that the odds were against the women being the best candidates —strictly a matter of numbers. Margaret Rossiter: But there are hundreds of women getting degrees in this area. Michael Babich: That might reinforce the point somebody made earlier. My point is, we keep seeing these numbers—that 31 percent or 35 percent or 40 percent of the graduate students are women—but they are not applying for academic positions. Janet Osteryoung: Could I jump in here and provide some information? These data come from an NSF publication, 99-323, that reports postgraduation plans of science and engineering doctorate recipients in 1997. Those are the most recent data available. Let me preface this by saying that when I ask what percentage of women are in the applicant pool when a job is advertised in a chemistry department, the number I hear informally is 5 percent. That is the most common number that I get back, so, your figure is right on target. However, consider the approximately 70 percent of Ph.D. graduates in the field of chemistry who have definite plans—that is, their next job was already set at the time they filled out the form. For example, 30.3 percent of the men and 29.6 percent of the women have lined up industrial employment; 7.9 percent of the men and 13.9 percent of the women have academic employment; and 50.9 percent of the men and 47 percent of the women have postdoctoral appointments. These numbers are not strikingly different. Perhaps the balance between the postdoc and academic employment shows that more women are going directly to academic employment at a non-Ph.D.-granting institution, but if you compare those numbers with the numbers for science and engineering as a whole, only one thing jumps out as being strikingly different according to gender: of this group that has definite plans, 30 percent of both the men and women in chemistry plan industrial employment, but for all science and engineering 25 percent of the men are planning industrial employment but only 14 percent of the women. It would seem, using that as some kind of normalization, that a significantly larger fraction of women in chemistry choose industrial employment.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE Marion C. Thurnauer, Argonne National Laboratory: Now that we are on statistics, you showed that for graduate women the numbers have really stayed constant. In fact, there was a dip in the 1970s. I wonder if we can learn something from that, so we can at least keep the numbers constant, if not increase them. Do you know why there was a dip in the total number of chemists? Margaret Rossiter: It might have been the environmental movement. People got turned off by chemistry. Also, I'm not sure where the economy was. Marion Thurnauer: That is what I question. When we discuss ways to increase the number of women in the chemical workforce, how do we factor in the issues of the economy—the current job market and how it affects the chemical job market? W. Sue Shafer, University of California, San Francisco: I want to return to the philosophy of how departments view their young, untenured faculty. When I was applying for jobs in academia (I didn't actually go there but ended up going to government), there was a philosophy that the department hired you, but you were on trial. You had to make your own way, and either sink or swim. I recently heard Keith Yamamoto at UCSF express a different philosophy. Once you go through a search and hire a beginning faculty member into your department, it is the department's job to make sure its young faculty succeed. Instead of putting faculty on trial—ready to boot you out if you don't come up to snuff—the department views you as an investment. They need to optimize their return. A committee—like your thesis committee—would help you through the stages of getting your thoughts together, getting your first research grant, getting promoted, and getting tenured. Departments need to examine their philosophies. How are they dealing with the people that they bring into the department, and what do they want to happen? If they want to make it a competition after the search, that is one philosophy. However, a philosophy that it seems to me would benefit most departments would be to view someone you have hired as someone you have invested in, and make your strategy for succeeding their strategy for succeeding. Margaret Rossiter: Sometimes the department that hires isn't unanimous. So there are some who don't want you to succeed, and they may be quiet and lying in wait and then at tenure time the knives will come out. Sue Shafer: I would just say, What a waste of everybody's time and resources. Margaret Rossiter: They need a peace meeting after you are hired—you know, “Let's bury the hatchet; we have the future to think about. Let us not allow past resentments to color future decisions.” But sometimes they harbor these resentments for decades. Mary L. Mandich, Bell Laboratories: I would like to amplify what you said. When I was in a job search, I interviewed at a number of academic departments. Only one department offered any support for my starting career, and they told me that they would help me write my first grant. When I interviewed at Bell Labs, the people who were going to hire me said that part of their yearly job rating was based on how well I would do. That made a huge difference, and it still does. Margaret Rossiter: It gets their attention, yes.
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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A WORKSHOP REPORT TO THE CHEMICAL SCIENCES ROUNDTABLE Christine S. Grant, North Carolina State University: I said that I wasn't going to say anything, but if you look around the room you will find that I am the only African-American person here, and so I wanted to put another statistic in your basket. I think at present there are probably about 2200 chemical engineering faculty in the country, and I am not sure how many women. Maria Burka may be able to help me with this. Do you know about how many women there are right now—maybe about 200 or 300? Maria Burka, National Science Foundation: About 225. Christine Grant: Two hundred and twenty-five women. There are 26 African-American chemical engineering faculty in the country, and five are women. So, I joke with people: I say, “Me and my four friends.” I have been doing this for 10 years. The other four women include an associate professor at Northeastern and an assistant professor at MIT and there is a woman at the University of Iowa and one at the University of Maryland. None of us is a full professor. These are statistics that I keep on the African-Americans and women in chemical engineering. I met a woman at the AIChE meeting recently who said that no one had ever talked to her about being a faculty member, and she was getting ready to finish her Ph.D. So we pulled her aside and said, “You probably need to look at doing a postdoc.” We find this across the board, but I just thought I would throw out that statistic. Maria Spinu, DuPont: I was personally involved in hiring and interviewing people for CR &D, and I can testify that we looked really, really hard and tried very, very hard to find qualified women and African-Americans. We went out of our way to do that, but the statistics are just not always on our side. We did get a few women. I don't know about everything that has happened in the last 10 or 20 years, but I know what is happening now—we try very hard, and I don't think that we would pick a man over a woman who had equal qualifications. Janet Osteryoung: I want to second what Christine said. In fact, there is a pervasive attitude about picking and choosing. It affects everybody, not just women. I think one of the things we can say is that there are so many women—and there are so many women who have received good training —that, if we cannot succeed in this, how can we succeed in anything?
Representative terms from entire chapter: