Women's Initiative Committee to Mark 20 Years with Symposium at AIChE Annual Meeting, Oct. 30

AIChE will shine a light on the achievements of women chemical engineers at a day-long symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 30, during AIChE’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.

Organized by AIChE’s Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC), the symposium — “Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering” — is the centerpiece of WIC’s 20th anniversary activities and will feature invited talks by more than 20 prominent women chemical engineers, all of whom have distinguished themselves through their technical contributions and leadership.

More about WIC and the 20th anniversary program

The Women’s Initiatives Committee has provided an Institute-based community for two generations of women chemical engineers. In addition to providing mentorship and career support among its members, WIC advises AIChE on global efforts to promote the recruitment, retention, and full participation of women engineers in both the profession and the Institute.

According to Julianne Holloway, assistant professor at Arizona State Univ. and the symposium’s lead organizer, the 20th anniversary program will highlight more than just the scientific and career accomplishments of women. “Attendees will learn about the history of women in chemical engineering, which I hope will provide an enhanced perspective of how women have contributed to and shaped the field,” says Holloway.

Speakers and topics

Historical perspectives will help place women engineers’ technical contributions into context, detailing the emergence and impact of women in chemical engineering. Among the speakers and topics are:

Caroline Reynolds, President of CR Solutions and a former AIChE Director, delves into WIC’s formative years and describes the Committee’s evolution in her talk “AIChE Women’s Initiatives: Our Past, Our Future.”

Maria Burka, an AIChE past president and retired program director at the National Science Foundation, presents historical information and statistics on women in chemical engineering and in AIChE, including a look at trends and a discussion of how perceptions regarding women in the profession have changed.

Rosemarie Wesson, AIChE’s treasurer and associate dean for research at the City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering, shares her enthusiasm for the profession and its history in her talk “Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering: Past and Present.”

Christine Seymour, AIChE’s 2018 President and a director at Pfizer, Inc., introduces meeting attendees to trailblazing ChE Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, AIChE’s first woman member and a major contributor to process development and plant design, including the first penicillin deep tank fermentation plant.

The full slate of presenters can be found on the Annual Meeting website at www.aiche.org/annual.

An important celebration

Setting the stage for the WIC anniversary symposium is a Women’s Initiatives Committee luncheon on Monday, Oct. 29. After the symposium, on Tuesday evening, meeting attendees are invited to a celebratory WIC reception to formally mark the 20-year milestone.

Reflecting on her role as an organizer of the WIC celebration, as well her status as an engineer, Holloway affirms that women are an integral component of the chemical engineering community, including AIChE. “We’ve made a lot of progress over the past few decades — as a committee and more broadly within chemical engineering as a profession,” she says. “WIC’s 20th anniversary symposium is an important celebration of our advances within that community, and I look forward to what the future holds for women in chemical engineering.”

This article originally appeared in the Institute News column in the September 2018 issue of CEP. Members have access online to complete issues, including a vast, searchable archive of back-issues found at aiche.org/cep.

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