FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 01, 2011

Women Chemists Committee announces inaugural Rising Star Award and winners

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2011— The Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) has established the WCC Rising Star Award, to recognize exceptional mid-career women chemists across all areas of chemistry on a national level. To be given annually, beginning in 2012, this new award is also intended to help promote retention of women in science. The inaugural winners are:

2012 WCC Rising Star Award Winners (alphabetical by state)

  • Dr. Annaliese K. Franz of Davis, Calif., University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Sarah E. Reisman of San Marino, Calif., California Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Malika Jeffries-El of Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University
  • Dr. Lisa Regalla of Minneapolis, Minn., DragonflyTV SciGirls
  • Dr. Gretchen Schroeder of Ewing, N.J., Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Dr. Laurie E. Breyfogle of Milford, Ohio, Procter & Gamble
  • Dr. Christine M. Ingersoll of Allentown, Pa., Muhlenberg College
  • Dr. Karin Balss of Spring House, Pa., Johnson & Johnson
  • Dr. Megan Bourg Sassin of Fredericksburg, Va., Naval Research Laboratory
  • Dr. Julia Laskin of Richland, Wash., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Recent data show that in 2008, women earned 50 percent of Bachelor’s degrees and 36 percent of Doctoral degrees in chemistry. However, the Commerce Department’s Economics & Statistics Administration recently reported that although women make up 48 percent of the total U.S. workforce, they represent only 24 percent of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobholders, with only 26 percent of women with STEM degrees in STEM jobs. The research also shows that women at the middle level of their science and technology based careers are leaving the chemical enterprise in large numbers, creating a “leaky pipeline.” According to “Climbing the Technical Ladder: Obstacles and Solutions for Mid-Level Women in Technology,” a significant number (29 percent) of women are planning to leave their mid-level positions at technology companies in the next twelve months to pursue other options.

“We may be making progress in terms of encouraging women into STEM fields, with higher numbers achieving both Bachelors and Doctoral degrees,” said Nancy Jackson, Ph.D., President of the American Chemical Society, “but the actual number of women in mid-career positions continues to decline. I am pleased to see the WCC address this important issue and the WCC Rising Star Award gives us another opportunity to highlight successful women chemists and help promote retention in the chemical enterprise.”

As part of the 85th Anniversary celebration for the WCC next year, the inaugural winners will be acknowledged during a symposium to highlight their work on Monday, March 26, 2012, at the 243rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego.

The Women Chemists Committee (WCC) serves the membership of the American Chemical Society with its mission to be leaders in attracting, retaining, developing, promoting, and advocating for women in the chemical sciences.

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