Elevating Women in Science

My personal essay has the overarching theme of mentoring and elevating professional women in the science and engineering fields. Having broken a number of glass ceilings during my professional career, it has been my motto to keep opportunities open for other women and to extend a helping hand.

It was alarming to be the “first woman” in a number of impactful moments during my career:

  • I received my PhD in physical organic chemistry in 1981 from the University of Delaware; I was the first woman to ever do so and the first woman to have successfully passed the rigorous organic chemistry cumulative exam process leading to the PhD degree.
  • I joined ARCO Chemical Company, then a division of Atlantic Richfield, in 1981, and was the first woman PhD industrial chemist hired by the company. I became the first woman science & engineering manager in 1987 and senior technical advisor in 1994, all at ARCO Chemical Company.
  • I was the first woman recipient of the Philadelphia Catalysis Club Award in 1997.
  • I was the first woman recipient of the Industrial Chemistry & Engineering, North American Catalysis Award in 2015.
  • I was the first woman recipient of the American Chemical Society Energy & Fuels Distinguished Researcher Award in 2019.

In response to these experiences, I have made a concerted effort to reach out to fellow science and engineering women to make improvements and provide opportunities. The following are examples of my activities, past and present:

  • Founded in 1982 and chaired the ARCO Women’s Management Association
  • Active in the American Chemical Society’s Women’s Chemist Committee throughout my membership, 1976–present
  • Active in the Girl Scouts received the Take the Lead in Science and Technology Award For Outstanding Leadership from the Girl Scouts of Pennsylvania, 1993
  • Established a new capability—transient kinetics—at Idaho National Laboratory in 2015, and hired a woman engineer to lead this capability
  • Engage in Idaho National Laboratory’s Women in Leadership Group
  • Actively mentor several of Idaho National Laboratory’s women scientists and engineers

It is my charter to continue to be a leader for women in the science and engineering fields.

In closing, I take great pride on a personal level in having raised a bright and caring daughter, who received a biochemistry degree from Cornell University and is now working toward the discovery of ovarian and other cancer fighting drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.