A symposium organized by Dr. Kim Woznack to launch the publication of the second edition of Mom the Chemistry Professor (Springer 2018) was held at the 25th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Gail Webster and Dr. Renée Cole presided over two sessions where seven women told their unique stories of pursuing both a career in academia and their path to motherhood. One of the speakers, Dr. Megan Grunert Kowalske, presented results from a qualitative study that she conducted. Her talk addressed the safety concerns identified by women chemists in academic laboratories. Each of the speakers identified systemic policy issues that women chemists confront in academia including scheduling issues when confronting infertility treatments, lack of maternity leave, challenges in child care, and inflexible tenure clock stoppage. A panel discussion at the conclusion of each session allowed for a rich discussion between the audience and the speakers.
Mom the Chemistry Professor author, Dr. Sara Mason of the University of Iowa and her daughter (in matching periodic table outfits) presenting at BCCE 2018 (photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell)
The symposium was well attended by both women and men. At one point, there were thirty-eight people seated in the audience with additional onlookers standing in the hallway. The symposium generated interest on twitter, and many attendees expressed an interest in continuing programming regarding these issues at future conferences, including ACS regional meetings.
Twitter activity after the conference
Overall, the symposium provided a much needed venue to share stories and normalize the ways in which women can combine motherhood and the professoriate.
By - Kimberly A. Woznack