Maya Nilkant

Chair's Message

Blog Post created by Maya Nilkant on Jun 6, 2017

Happy 90th Anniversary, Women Chemists Committee!


     I am wring to you as the 30th Chair of this committee. It began in August 1927 under the leadership of Mrs. Glenola B. Rose, who was tasked with the formation of a temporary committee to explore the possibility of a more formal structure around issues important to women chemists. Mrs. Rose formed the Women’s Service Committee, “for the purpose of developing the mutual interests of the women chemists and the American Chemical Society,” with Emma Perry Carr, Mt. Holyoke College; Ruth O’Brien, Department of Agriculture; Mary  E. Pennington, Independent Consultant; and Lois Woodford, Chemical Foundation.

     Five decades after the inception of this committee, the first female ACS President was elected: Professor Anna Jane Harrison of Mt. Holyoke College. The name of the committee was changed to the Women Chemists Committee in 1972 by the Chair at that time, Helen Free, who went on to become ACS President in 1993.

     There isn’t space to even begin to summarize the impactful contributions of the women and men who have served on this committee and in all of the ACS local section WCC committees. And when you add the ripple effects of those who have benefited from our service, it’s truly extraordinary. One might ask, after 90 years, is the work of this committee complete? While we have much to celebrate, challenges still exist for women chemists. Our task forces on ACS National Awards and on Non‐tenure track faculty have brought focused attention to inequities that remain and areas where the advocacy efforts can be used to the benefit of all who work in the chemical sciences. Here are some highlights of programming in the coming year:

     At the spring ACS national meeting in San Francisco, we have an exciting lineup of programming and social events. On Sunday, April 2, we will celebrate the accomplishments of Professor Judith Iriarte‐Gross, winner of the ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences, with the first half of a symposium that continues on Tuesday. On Monday, following our Women in the Chemical Enterprise Breakfast (a ticketed event), we will hear from several former WCC Chairs in a symposium on the influence of WCC in the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. In the afternoon, we are delighted to present our 2017 WCC Rising Stars Awardees in a half‐day symposium and honor them at the WCC Open meeting and ”Just Cocktails” reception, where we will also be celebrating our 90th Anniversary.

     Finally, we will be hosting WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Awardees. With the generous support of Eli Lilly, this program is in its 28th year and has provided awards to more than 500 women. You are cordially invited to their poster session on Tuesday, April 4, followed by our WCC Luncheon (a ticketed event).

     At the fall national meeting in DC, we will host WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Award and Merck Research Award winners. We are also cosponsoring the Division of History in Chemistry symposium “Ladies in Waiting for Nobel Prizes: Overlooked Accomplishments of Women Scientists” and the theatrical production, “No Belles,” featuring a few of the 16 women who have won a Nobel Prize and the work of many others who have not. And of course, we are taking the time to celebrate our accomplishments throughout the year. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are celebrating women chemists!


Laura Sremaniak

2017 Chair, Women Chemists Committee