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Women of Color in Science – NOBCChE Programs

As an organization, NOBCChE has helped countless women deal with these challenges. NOBCChE is committed to the discovery, transmittal, and application of knowledge in the fields of science and engineering. The mission of NOBCChE therefore is to build an eminent community of scientists and engineers by increasing the number of minorities in these fields. NOBCChE attempts to achieve its mission through diverse programs designed to foster professional development and encourage students to pursue careers in science and technical fields. To this end, NOBCChE has established educational partnerships with school districts, municipalities, businesses, industries, other institutions and organizations in the public and private sectors.

NOBCChE’s first national meeting was held in March 1974 in New Orleans. Dr. William Guillory, one of NOBCChE’s seven founders, was elected the first President at that meeting. The organization has held national meetings every year since then. The national meetings provide opportunities for Black chemists and chemical engineers to discuss issues of significance to their careers, to present technical papers, to mentor high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students in the areas of science and technology, and to present several fellowships to deserving graduate students. The first graduate fellowship was established by the Proctor & Gamble Company in 1976. This was followed in 1980 by the Kodak Fellowship Award and in 1990 by the DuPont Company Fellowship Award. In recent years additional graduate fellowships have been established by GlaxoSmithKline and the Dow Chemical Company. A new joint National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) - University of Maryland – NOBCChE fellowship began in 2007. To date, more than one million dollars have been distributed through these fellowships. In addition, national meetings serve as occasions to recognize professional members through the Percy L. Julian Professional Achievement Award and the Dr. Henry C. McBay Outstanding Teacher Award. Professor McBay, who was one of NOBCChE’s seven founders, taught chemistry at Morehouse College until his death at the age of 80. NOBCChE also administers the Henry A. Hill Lectureship sponsored by the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society.

Students and professionals who receive these NOBCChE awards and fellowships also receive invaluable NOBCChE support and mentorship. Although much of this mentorship is not and likely cannot effectively be formalized, time and again NOBCChE members comment that the experience of being a part of this organization has helped them in ways that cannot be measured or quantified – “But, if it weren’t for their love of NOBCChE, and the collective love of the entire organization, I can honestly say that I would be pretty shallow, and you could read my thoughts in a femtosecond.” V. G., BS, MS, NOBCChE Member. The opportunity to see, interact with and learn from scientists who “look like me” but who have nonetheless succeeded provides critical encouragement to women of color who are struggling to manage the challenges they are experiencing in their careers.

Included in NOBCChE programs are formal training sessions that are specifically aimed at addressing the challenges faced by women of color in science. For example, the agenda at the NOBCChE Annual Conference for the last several years included a workshop presented by COACh in partnership with NOBCChE. COACh programs are designed to: “Provide training in professional skills for women and minorities in STEM fields. The topics covered are ones not traditionally taught in science and engineering programs and include effective leadership styles and techniques, negotiation and management skills, career advancement strategies, time

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