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Author: Subject: Women in Chemistry
JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 15:12
Women in Chemistry


You often hear that there are few women in engineering fields. I have occasionally heard the same complaint about chemistry, though, but I'm not sure if it holds true... I know several women who are chemists, and I remember noticing numerous women in my chemistry classes in college. This was not the case in programming and physics classes. I don't know why programming and physics attract so few women, but I'm not sure if the same is true of chemistry.

Is it true that there are few women in chemistry? If it is, is this a problem, and if so, what should be done about it?





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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:32


There appears to be fewer women on this site. But I don't think that this site is reflective of chemistry in general.

However, I don't think there is a problem even if women are "underrepresented". I know of no law or rule of the universe that stipulates that both sexes must be equally represented in all fields. It only becomes a problem if individuals find themselves unable to pursue the things they are interested in pursuing. And that is quite a different piece of data -- not at all the same as the gender proportions within a particular vocation or field.

I am quite sure that men are underrepresented in the fields of scrapbooking and quilting. But I don't think that is a problem either.
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:38


As you did, I too noticed quite some women in chemistry in college. Still less than what you'd expect based on the population but they're certainly there. As with all things there must be an eye catcher moment before one gets interested in something and decides to study the matter.

I've been theorizing that there are more male chemists because of the sex appeal of "Feuer und Flamme, Schall und Rauch" - as a lecturer at The Royal Instution put it - to young men. Myself probably included. This interest is innate and does not need encouragement. This has got me thinking what the eye catcher moment is to women in chemistry? Maybe chemistry class can be tailored to more proactively show such eye catchers and in doing so encourage women to study in chemistry?
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 16:48


My wife recently attended a talk at the Women in Chemistry group, which is a affiliated group with the RACI.

https://www.raci.org.au/branches/vic-branch/women-in-chemist...

I think what you'll find is that there's not much in the way of backyard chemistry by women. My wife is an analytical chemist and she is more or less perplexed why anyone would want to try doing things outside a safe regulated environment like a professional lab. Which causes some consternation for want of a better word, when I want to try something at home occasionally.

[Edited on 14-5-2017 by Chemetix]
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Praxichys
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 17:14


I have two younger sisters. Both enjoyed chemistry growing up, usually under my influence. One is a master's-degree formulation chemist at a paint and coatings company and the other went for biochem and is now a histotechnologist.



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TheNerdyFarmer
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 18:47


From what I have seen, most women in chemistry seem to lean toward the biochemistry field. Being a high school student I talked to the director at my local STEM building and she said that most girls lean toward the biochemistry side of the program in order to go into the field of medicine.
Not trying to stereotype women in chemistry here, this is just what I have seen.
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:26


It should be extremely clear to everyone reading this that statistical generalizations that might appropriately apply to large groups of people don't usually say much about individuals. That said, it can be dangerous for an education director to make such statements.



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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:32


@ JJay
Who's the "education director"?
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:55


j_sum1: Huh? I don't know.



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j_sum1
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 20:59


You said it.
Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
It should be extremely clear to everyone reading this that statistical generalizations that might appropriately apply to large groups of people don't usually say much about individuals. That said, it can be dangerous for an education director to make such statements.


I was just trying to follow what you were saying.
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JJay
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 22:09


Oh, it appeared that you were asking a question about a specific education director. Feel free to clarify.



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Corrosive Joeseph
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[*] posted on 13-5-2017 at 23:59


Quote: Originally posted by TheNerdyFarmer  
From what I have seen, most women in chemistry seem to lean toward the biochemistry field. Being a high school student I talked to the director at my local STEM building and she said that most girls lean toward the biochemistry side of the program in order to go into the field of medicine.
Not trying to stereotype women in chemistry here, this is just what I have seen.


I think this is the 'education director'.................
:D


/CJ




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The Volatile Chemist
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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 15:01


Five year old neighbor recently told my sister she liked chemistry and asked (my sister) if she had taken chemistry in highschool yet. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised in the interest in chemistry of someone so young.



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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 16:25


There's a good number of female chemical engineers at the university where I went to undergrad. Most of the belonged to SWE:

http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/
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[*] posted on 15-5-2017 at 20:28


I'm in an engineering program where the gender ratio is about 3:1 male to female, but the individual Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering departments are roughly equal. The departments that really suffer are Mechanical and Computer/Electrical engineering. The overall demographics really vary widely for a number of different characteristics depending on which specific area of STEM you examine.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 02:22


At the university it's pretty obvious, the ratio of women decreases from students to PhD students to post-docs, assistant professors, and professors.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 03:38
Women in Chemistry


I don't have any hard data. (Perhaps I should start keeping some.) However, I teach chemistry at a small regional university in the US. Most of our professional chemistry majors are probably male, however we do have quite a few female. The ratio is roughly 3:1. There are probably more female chemistry majors overall, but most of them are planning to pursue pharmacy. I think the major difference I have noticed is most of that the female professional chemistry majors don't seem to be too interested in really doing chemistry. They have chosen this field because they think it will be a good, stable job, or they have a relative who was a chemist and they are following suit. I can offer to show students how to use the NMR, etc, outside class, and I have only ever had one female student show up for that. That particular female student was exceptional and with her bachelor's can probably run circles around 90% of PhD students. I am not saying women are not as smart, but that most of them aren't really interested in the chemistry, but just getting a job. I am female myself, BTW, and I have always loved science. It is difficult for me to understand their lack of enthusiasm.
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[*] posted on 24-5-2017 at 08:20


Someone should do a poll of SM, to see the number of men and women that are here.
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