Successful women chemists and the importance of role models
Oct20

Successful women chemists and the importance of role models

After last week's post on why women leave science, I thought it would be appropriate to follow up with a more positive message about the women who do stay in science and have successful careers. A quick internet search on "successful women in chemistry" led to my discovery of a book with that exact title. No kidding. I checked it out of the library immediately. Successful Women in Chemistry is published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and contains the stories of 26 women in mid- to upper-level positions in a plethora of fields, including industry, business, patent law, and even human resources. Each of the chapters was originally written for a 2003 newsletter series put out by the ACS Women's Chemists Committee (WCC). The writers are themselves women chemists and active members of the WCC. As mentioned in my previous post, some women who leave behind their scientific careers report a lack of mentors as one of the deterrents. This book is aimed at taking one step toward correcting that, by introducing up-and-coming women chemists to those who have gone ahead. The goal of this book is to create a resource where women can find a role model, someone with whom they can relate. Profiling women with a wide diversity of experiences and career opportunities allows the reader to find a common connection. - Oxford University Press book description As I flipped through the chapters, I discovered that the writers discuss both the successes as well as the challenges these women faced along the way. Also, instead of focusing exclusively on their professional lives, they also discuss their personal lives, including how they have handled the matter of work/life balance throughout their careers. Some of the women highlighted in the book worked for a single company their entire careers, moving from one position to another. Others moved into part-time positions in order to focus on raising a family for a period of time before returning to work full-time. Still others moved around into many different positions. The diversity of career paths reminded me that it is a unique minority of scientists out there who set out on their careers sticking to the one thing they’ve always wanted to do. It seems like more often than not people jump around— and that’s okay! More resources for women in science Perusing the rest of my internet search findings, I discovered there are a lot of websites dedicated to the topic of women in science. Here’s my summary of a few of them: CareerWISE: A resource for graduate women in chemistry— just create an account and tap into a wealth of resources on topics ranging from...

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