Women Chemists Committee Celebrates 95 Years of Empowering Women in the Chemical Enterprise

Author: Amy M Balija, Chair of the ACS Women Chemists Committee

The Women Chemists Committee (WCC) was established in 1927 as a joint committee between ACS Council and the Board of Directors. Initially named the Women’s Service Committee, the group was instructed to follow five directives to promote, advocate, and inform the Society about issues important to women. While much has changed over the years, the overall goal of the WCC has not altered: to create a more equitable environment for women. Collaborating with other ACS committees, sister organizations, and industrial partners, WCC has hosted symposia, developed national awards, provided networking opportunities, and advocated for equity. The Committee creates a safe environment for its members to cultivate leadership skills to hold prominent offices within ACS and the chemical profession including as an ACS president, ACS directors, upper management positions in industry and government, and professors at academic institutions.

This year, the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) celebrates its 95th anniversary. To continue the year-long commemoration of this milestone, WCC has organized various events for the Fall ACS meeting. As Chair of the WCC, I wish to invite you to our celebrations in Chicago.

The celebration starts on Sunday, August 20th with the 2022 WCC Merck Award symposium. The WCC Merck Award recognizes eight individuals in their 3rd and 4th year of graduate school focusing on organic, medicinal, analytical, chemical biology, computation, or structural chemistry research. This award is open to US citizens studying anywhere and non-US citizens attending a graduate program in the United States or Canada. This year’s recipients are the following: Maria Adrover-Castellano (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Maria Camila Aguilera (University of Rochester), Sara Dibrell (California Institute of Technology), Olivia Garry (Princeton University), Rachel Huang (Stanford University), Irene Manning (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Alena Vasquez (Scripps Research Institute), and Zixi Zhang (University of California, Berkeley).

On Monday, August 21st, WCC will host the WICE (Women in the Chemical Enterprise) breakfast. This ticked event encourages women to network and to advance their careers. Also on Monday, WCC will host a full-day symposium honoring the 10th Anniversary of the WCC Rising Star Award. The WCC Rising Star Award recognizes up to ten women scientists approaching mid-level careers who have demonstrated outstanding promise for contributions to their respective fields. The award is open to all individual ACS members in chemistry and chemical engineering in academic, industrial, government, non-profit or other sectors. During the symposium, presenters will highlight the impact of the Rising Star Award on their career and discuss their technical contributions.

The celebration continues Tuesday with the first half of the symposium “Celebrating 95 Years of the WCC (Women Chemists Committee).” During this symposium, past WCC chairs will discuss projects undertaken during their tenure and the challenges remaining. The final presentation will highlight future projects the WCC will undertake. The WCC luncheon also will be held with ACS President Angela Wilson speaking about the advances of women within the chemical enterprise and how the WCC has impacted the ACS. This ticketed luncheon is popular, so attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets as soon as possible. The winner of the Overcoming Challenges Award, Riley Atrops from California State University Channel Islands, will be honored at the luncheon. The Overcoming Challenges Award recognizes a female undergraduate for her efforts in overcoming hardship to achieve success in chemistry. The awardee receives a monetary prize and money for travel expenses to attend the ACS Fall Meeting.

In the later afternoon Tuesday, the WCC Open Meeting, called “Just Cocktails” will occur. Besides free food and drink, this open meeting provides attendees the opportunity to meet current WCC members, learn about future WCC activities, learn about how to become involved within the Committee, and network with others. Slides highlighting local section ChemLuminary submissions and winners of the WCC mini grants will be highlighted. This meeting is open to all and is free to attend.

To conclude the celebration at the ACS meeting, past WCC award winners will present at a full day symposium entitled “Past WCC Award Winners in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry.” These presenters will provide a technical talk and give a brief highlight how either the Merck Research Award or the Eli Lilly Travel Award influenced their careers. Merck and Eli Lilly representatives will discuss the formation of these awards and how the award impacted the companies.

Updated information regarding the timing and location of WCC activities can be found at https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/meetings/acs-meetings.html. All events are included with the registration unless otherwise noted.

The 95th anniversary celebration does not end after the Fall ACS meeting. Throughout this year, WCC has been highlighting various aspects of women chemists through Facebook. Stories about chemistry mothers, industrial chemists, and international scientists display the diversity with being a woman chemist. In October, WCC will sponsor a virtual Women Chemists of Color Networking Event held during National Chemistry Week. This event will provide attendees the chance to speak with mentors about advancing their careers and how to overcome professional and personal barriers. Information regarding the event will be posted on the WCC website (http://www.acswcc.org) and WCC social media accounts.

Women Chemists Committee logo

Being involved in the Women Chemists Committee is an excellent opportunity to broaden horizons, network with others, and work towards positively impacting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Whether at the national or local level, members can create an inviting environment for all. Information regarding WCC sponsored awards, how to start a local WCC section, and upcoming WCC sponsored events are found at http://www.acswcc.org. Keep in touch through our social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Attention WCC Local Sections, Student Chapters, and International Chapters!

The ACS Women Chemists Committee invites you to be part of its “95th Anniversary Celebration of the WCC” by hosting an event to commemorate this special occasion and the work of women chemists around the world. To help with the event, WCC is offering a limited number of grants (up to $100) for any local section, student chapter, or international chapter that wishes to host an event. Feel free to include the WCC 95th Anniversary graphic with your invite. All events must be held by November 1, 2022. Apply today!

Leave your comment