Although our data indicate that many women chemists perceive their work climate to be quite chilly, it is possible that this situation can change. The data presented in this article suggest that the field could be well served by addressing issues related to mentoring, career supports, allocation of resources and privilege, and attending to issues within individual departments and within the field as a whole that impede women’s career advancement.
(Greene, J.; Stockard, J.; Lewis, P.; Richmond, G. J. Chem. Educ.)
Care to venture a guess as to the date of publication for this article quote? Feel as though it’s an up-to-the-minute reflection of discussion on your Twitter feed? This Especially JCE column is designed to highlight the most recent issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, but you may (or may not) be surprised that the quote above is from the April 2010 issue. That issue contained two articles by Greene, et al.: Is the Academic Climate Chilly? The Views of Women Academic Chemists (quote taken from the Summary section, p. 385) and COACh Career Development Workshops for Science and Engineering Faculty: Views of the Career Impact on Women Chemists and Chemical Engineers.
I’ve pulled the quote up, eight years later, because the same authors bring an update to the situation, comparing their original data with additional data gathered since then, and a discussion of whether their COACh workshops for women chemists still have utility today, in Is the Gender Climate Still Chilly? Changes in the Last Decade and the Long-Term Impact of COACh-Sponsored Workshops. I’ll cut right away to the Summary section of the 2018 article:
Since 2006, the representation of women among recipients of Ph.D. degrees in chemistry and among faculty within academic chemistry departments has increased. Yet, the data summarized in this article indicate that the gender-related climate within academic chemistry changed very little during this period. Substantial proportions of women faculty continue to report serious obstacles to recruitment and hiring of women, greater allocations of rewards and recognition to male faculty, less than supportive work environments, a variety of conditions that hinder women’s career progress, and less than optimal satisfaction with their work situation.
(Stockard, J.; Greene, J.; Richmond, G.; Lewis, P. J. Chem. Educ. 2018, p 1497.)
I have no direct experience with college/university level academic employment. You may not either. But, it’s an important discussion for chemical educators to be aware of and to take part in. The article wraps up with a discussion of what department and university administrators could do, what leaders in the field could do, and for the field as a whole. All three articles are accessible to JCE subscribers. I encourage you to read it yourself, but also to share with a colleague.
Stockard, et al. finishes with this:
Developing a more open and accepting gender-related environment within academic chemistry will take time and effort. However, we believe that such an environment will benefit all who are involved, both faculty and students, and both men and women. It would help all chemists do better work and thus advance the field.
(Stockard, J.; Greene, J.; Richmond, G.; Lewis, P. J. Chem. Educ. 2018, p 1499.)
What will the quote be a decade from now?
More from the September 2018 Issue
Mary Saecker gives you an overview of the entire issue in her JCE 95.09 September 2018 Issue Highlights, along with a great walk through the archives to find a variety of resources related to paper chromatography.
What are your thoughts related to the issues raised by the Journal? Share! Start by submitting a contribution form, explaining you’d like to contribute to the Especially JCE column. Then, put your thoughts together in a blog post. Questions? Contact us using the ChemEd X contact form.