5An Oddity No Longer: Women Scientists in Industry

Publication Details

L. Shannon Davis

Solutia, Inc.

I want to thank Dr. Janet Osteryoung and her colleagues for putting together this workshop; it is a timely, very relevant subject. I also want to thank my employer, Solutia, Inc., for allowing me to speak today.

I'm going to present a perspective on women scientists in industry. “An Oddity No Longer” is an apt title for this discussion, as the statistics and some of the anecdotal evidence I'll be presenting amply demonstrate. This will be a balanced picture, because by no means does the industrial world have the perfect solutions to attracting, retaining, and promoting outstanding women scientists. Nor is what I'm going to say true of all segments of the chemical industry—including my own company. I've culled some success stories, as well as some tales of woe, from leading companies in the chemical industry in hopes of gaining some insights into what's gotten us as far as we've come and maybe to shed some light on how to continue to make progress. I'll also raise questions that I don't have answers for, which I hope will provoke some healthy discussions about what is working, what is not working, and some potential solutions to keep talented people contributing in our workforce.

I'll begin with an overview of some statistics. I suspect that by the end of this workshop we all will know these numbers by heart, as I'm sure all of us are quoting them from the same or similar sources.

First of all, we'll talk about the pipeline. Where are the women pursuing science and engineering degrees? What does the profile look like and how does it affect our hiring and promotion practices? We'll talk some about the ramifications of the pipeline as well—changes in today's workforce, for example. Then we'll segue into trends for today's workplace. These trends impact what the workforce expects and what you have to do to retain the best and the brightest for your company, your laboratories, and your lecture halls. We'll look at some programs that have been successful for industry and some that haven't perhaps been as successful as we'd like. And we'll talk about possible trends that will exacerbate the exodus of women to other careers. I'll close with some suggestions on how to capitalize on this information and some critical questions to ask about your workplace and your organization that I hope will leave us with some food for thought for tomorrow's sessions on critical factors for success.

The data in Figure 5.1 show the number of chemical engineering graduates by degree and by year. I've broken out the data to show just chemical engineers, as this is the principal discipline in the science and engineering fields that moves into the chemical industry. Note that the slowdown in the production of engineers in the early 1990s in response to the declining economic conditions of those years is in a full-swing reversal.

FIGURE 5.1. Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997.


Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), NSF, Arlington, VA, February (more...)

Figure 5.2 shows similar data for chemistry graduates, again by degree. We see a similar impact of the mini-recession in the early 1990s, followed again by a nice recovery; there are graduates out there from the disciplines relevant to most of the chemical industry. I deliberately selected these two segments for particular focus as they make up the majority of the technical hiring pool that we in industry draw from.

FIGURE 5.2. Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997.


Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), NSF, Arlington, VA, February 2000. (more...)

Figure 5.3 breaks out degrees by level and by gender. Starting in the 1980s, you can discern a relatively steady increase in the number of women choosing chemical engineering degrees at all levels. A similar trend can be seen in Figure 5.4 for chemistry degrees, although it started a bit earlier there.

FIGURE 5.3. Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States by gender, 1966 to 1997.


Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States by gender, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), NSF, Arlington, (more...)

FIGURE 5.4. Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States by gender, 1966 to 1997.


Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States by gender, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), NSF, Arlington, VA, February (more...)

Perhaps a slightly clearer indicator of the increasing number of females receiving science and engineering degrees can be seen in Figure 5.5, which shows women as a percentage of the total chemical engineering degrees granted. The numbers steadily increase over the years, so that today's graduating classes of chemical engineers are around 30 to 35 percent female. The dark horizontal line on Figure 5.5 is an arbitrary distinction that I chose in order to facilitate discussion later on about “the pipeline theory.” At 20 percent of degrees granted, women make up a large population. At this point, the entrylevel pool of candidates is fully supplied with qualified candidates. Note that for industry, where the majority of chemical engineering hires are at the B.S. level, we reached this arbitrary distinction point in 1982—almost 20 years ago.

FIGURE 5.5. Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States, women as a percentage of the total, 1966 to 1997.


Chemical engineering degrees awarded in the United States, women as a percentage of the total, 1966 to 1997. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan (more...)

The share of chemistry degrees earned by women shows a similar trend (Figure 5.6). We see a continuing increase in the number of women receiving chemistry degrees at all degree levels. In this case, however, we reach the arbitrary 20 percent mark much earlier. For B.S. chemists, who would typically be hired into industry at technician or junior professional levels, we hit 20 percent in 1974; for Ph.D.s, who are typically the degree level most often hired by industry, we reached that level in 1986.

FIGURE 5.6. Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997, women as a percentage of the total.


Chemistry degrees awarded in the United States, 1966 to 1997, women as a percentage of the total. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-97, NSF 00-310 (Author, Susan T. Hill), (more...)

My proposed hypothesis is that these data indicate rather strongly that the pipeline is full and has been for at least 20 years. Women are receiving increasing proportions of the science degrees awarded and have been for a while. Thus, a logical conclusion is that the hiring pool of talent today contains enough women, and has for the past 15 to 20 years. Problems with finding qualified female candidates for jobs—particularly entry-level jobs—should be alleviated with women accounting for over 20 percent of the degree holders.

If this hypothesis is true, then a few other logical conclusions also follow.

If we've had a full pool of talent for 20 years, then a snapshot survey should show women at all levels of industrial jobs today. Even with some attrition, we should see women attaining the upper echelons of career paths, whether that is in management or in the technical track.

So where are they today? In industry, these numbers are very hard to come by. Madeleine Jacobs, editor in chief of C&EN, took the approach of perusing the annual reports of the top U.S. chemical companies. In 1997, only 4 percent of the upper management listed in the annual reports of the top 19 U.S. chemical producers were women, with the majority of these holding staff titles. Numbers on technical staff are virtually impossible to find. A 1998 study of Fortune 500 corporations by Catalyst, the nonprofit organization that aims at maximizing opportunities for women in management and executive positions, showed that fewer than 4 percent of the chairman, CEO, and VP titles were held by women. Only 11.2 percent of corporate officers were women, and they projected very slow growth rates (13 percent in 2000, 17 percent in 2005).

These are some of the demographic data. Now I'm going to discuss trends. I'll present some general workforce statistics and then discuss hiring, recruiting, and retention from an industrial perspective.

I'll also review some of the policies and programs that are changing to meet the changing demands of the workforce today.

Several trends worthy of note emerged from the NSF science and engineering indicators study in 1998; these are summarized in Box 5.1. First of all, the science and engineering professions enjoy extremely low unemployment rates—about one-half of the national average today—and the projected demand for scientists and engineers over the period of the study (through 2006) is expected to increase substantially faster than the national average. Also, current trends in degrees granted and numbers of people employed in the science and engineering fields indicate that the shortfall of trained scientists and engineers that was so highly touted several years ago is not going to occur. While record numbers of science and engineering professionals will begin retiring as the baby boomers hit retirement age, there seem to be sufficient numbers of people entering these fields to replace them, so the age equation seems to be pretty much in balance. A key issue here is the more forward-looking indicator of the number of people choosing to major in science and technology fields. If fewer and fewer people are choosing to enter these fields, the supply and demand equation may not be as much in balance as we think.

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BOX 5.1

The Science and Engineering Workforce. Science and engineering enjoy low unemployment rates (~2%). Demand for science and engineering occupations is expected to increase over the next 10 years at three times the national average.

A significant trend in the workplace has been the rise in the number of dual-career couples seeking jobs, as shown in Box 5.2. Since 1960, the fraction of dual-career couples has risen three times, to over 86 percent of the workforce. More than half of marriages in 1996 were dual-income couples, and they made up 45 percent of the workforce. These changes have driven changes in many other areas as well—benefits policies and growth industries such as day care, Internet shopping, and the like.

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BOX 5.2

Dual-Career Couples. Two-wage couples

As we've already discussed, there is a large and diverse pool of talented, qualified candidates. In industry, recruiting for both women and minorities is no longer haphazard. Special efforts are made to recruit talented individuals in both categories—by hosting pizza parties for the women in engineering societies on campus, for example. To raise candidates' awareness of a company, some businesses fund special events, programs, or scholarships. And some industrial recruiting efforts target specific schools. Industry has also recognized the need for support structures, with new-hire orientation programs, communications classes, and, in some cases, special programs for the needs of dual-career couples.

Our cafeteria-style benefits have also changed substantially in response to these changing demographics. In the area of retention, three things stand out. The first is salaries and benefits and pay equity measures. The second is career paths for science and engineering graduates in industry. The third critical factor in retention is often the policies and programs available in-house. A fourth, more nebulous factor in retention is “atmosphere,” which is hard to measure, quantify, and affect. Atmosphere often falls in the category of things “you know them when you see them.”

Figure 5.7 presents a graph of salary, by gender and degree level, from last year's ACS salary survey. These data are principally for chemistry degrees and are only for industry. A couple of interesting points emerge. There are no data for women in the 30-year-plus brackets. Having seen the historical degree data, this is not a surprise, as it reflects the virtual absence of women with degrees in that time frame. Overall, the trends in the early years are very positive, with women holding their own in terms of salary. The salary divergence gradually creeps in as years of experience increase, and it gets quite noticeable in every degree category about 15 to 20 years past the B.S. degree. This is very interesting, given the question I raised earlier about pipelines and “where are they?”

FIGURE 5.7. Industrial salaries by gender.


Industrial salaries by gender. SOURCE: Michael Heylin, “Salary and Employment Survey,” Chemical & Engineering News, August 2, 1999, pp. 28-39.

Figure 5.8 presents these same data from a different perspective, showing women's salaries as a percentage of men's. There is a definite drop as years of experience increase, and there is a worrisome increase in the gap as the years past B.S. increase. Several factors have been posited to explain this gap—women leaving the workforce for family reasons, and so on. This is also closely correlated with the numbers of degrees granted. The increased disparity didn't start until about the 20-year mark. Note the horizontal line at about 72 percent; this is the national average for the United States.

FIGURE 5.8. Industrial salaries, women as a percentage of men.


Industrial salaries, women as a percentage of men. SOURCE: Michael Heylin, “Salary and Employment Survey,” Chemical & Engineering News, August 2, 1999, pp. 28-39.

Let me make some comments on pay equity. It's hard to believe that we still have to talk about this subject in the year 2000, but there is still a small wage gap in industrial salaries, although in the early years it is very small. In the ACS survey, there are insufficient data at high levels of experience to report—few women with 30-plus years of work history.

Some interesting questions arise in these studies as well. Again at that 15-year mark the gap increases, as we saw also in Figure 5.7. What is so significant about this 15-year mark? A similar study by the NSF in 1999 found a definite correlation between years of experience and salary. Their data, covering a wider range of science and engineering salaries and including academicians, showed a pay equity gap of about 87 cents to the dollar. They also showed a big difference in years of experience. When that particular variable was accounted for in the regressions, the wage gap closed to 97 percent. Women, in this study, had on the average 5 years less experience than men, and this experience level difference was key in the wage gap that was found. However, they also noted the absence of “older” women in the engineering workforce and that women with engineering degrees more often were employed outside their field. Again, why?

One of the keys to retention is having mechanisms in place to allow employees to grow, stretch, and learn. In industry, a technical person will typically follow one of two major career paths—either staying technical for the duration of their career or moving into management. In many places, the technical track is referred to as the “fellow” program, after the IBM and, now, the Bell Labs programs begun in the 1970s. This dual-track career ladder is intended to ensure that people who choose to remain at the bench for their careers are compensated and have the ability to achieve titular levels equivalent to those of management and commercial-track people. Some people move into the commercial side of the business and follow a commercial track. This is one key area where dropouts occur, as these people typically no longer respond to surveys of the science and engineering workforce.

One of the advantages of these multiple tracks is the flexibility in choices, particularly for dualcareer couples. These ladders enable people to take on new challenges, in many cases without having to relocate families, and grow within the same company or organization. For dual-career couples, this flexibility allows both partners to enjoy more fully their job or career choices, and while sacrifices are still in many cases required, the degree of sacrifice is somewhat less.

A tried and true tenet of management is that “what gets measured, gets done.” This premise is the foundation for most of our management programs in industry and for many other programs, such as quality assurance. If you want to increase the proportions of women and minorities in your organization, then you must begin to measure the numbers. Where are they? Where are they going? Why do they leave? These are all key questions that should be monitored. Both formal programs and benefits and informal programs are key to providing the support structure necessary to create the right environment to retain all of your best and brightest, not just the women. This is a key area that defines that nebulous “atmosphere” quality in a more formal fashion.

In the 1980s there was a big push for diversity training, sensitivity training, cultural training—the movement had many descriptors. These programs were generated in response to a growing recognition that different groups of people think about the same things in very different ways. Our stereotypes determine how we filter and interpret information, and our cultural upbringing subconsciously influences those filters. These sessions were intended to instill in participants an appreciation for other perspectives and to begin to highlight some of the more subtle forms of discrimination that exist, to bring to the surface some of those filters that resulted in the famous glass ceilings, and to become more aware of subtle barriers to success that exist in organizations, work groups, and individuals.

While in most cases this training was well received, the increased focus at the same time on both diversity issues and sexual harassment had some negative ramifications in the industrial workplace. Some more subtle biases and barriers began to crop up as backlash—cases in which men in an organization were reluctant to work with women because they weren't sure how their actions would be interpreted, because they didn't want to deal with potential harassment issues.

“Early ID” is a management technique that is routinely used in industry and other places to identify good, promising candidates for high-level jobs early in their career. These people are typically high-potential candidates for a large number of jobs within the organization and so are groomed, with more attention given to their career paths by management. This attention typically takes the form of high-visibility assignments—a key criterion for promotion—good skill-building opportunities and other such grooming opportunities. Exposure to the top brass is critical. These people are also mentored and coached to fully develop their potential. In many organizations, part of the measuring includes a dedicated “people planning” process, in which personnel are discussed in terms of their career potential. Specifically discussing women and minorities who are interested in technical or management-track careers is a key component of this planning process.

Mentoring is both a formal and an informal process. Many organizations—General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Corning—have formal mentoring programs, which in many cases go hand in hand with their diversity training—part of broadening cultural and business perspectives. Formal programs typically involve pairing up a senior with a more junior person, to show them the ropes of the organization—mores, standards, cultural norms. This person can also be a development coach, offering suggestions on how best to pitch that great new idea or who in the organization would be most receptive to it. Also, mentors can help with career choices and with internal networking. Mentoring is a critical component of the atmosphere. Good places have it.

More informal networking happens at professional society meetings, workshops like this, and with organizations such as the Women Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society or the international American Women in Science. It also happens informally in organizations with social or work groups. And the advent of the Internet has expanded greatly the opportunities for networking, with online career coaches, chat rooms, and the like.

The changing workforce demographics has dictated sweeping changes in both policies and benefits for the industrial workforce. The Family Medical Leave Act is much more frequently used for new family additions—and by both parents, not just the mother—since it was introduced into law in 1993. Twenty million workers have used the law since it was passed; 58 percent were women, and most use was for personal illness. A newer change, which has been enabled by the rapid growth of technology, has been alternative work arrangements. These can include part-time work, job sharing, telecommuting, flex time, alternative shift schedules, and other creative ways to allow people to manage more effectively their work lives and their personal lives. The flood of dual-career couples has also eliminated nepotism rules in industry. While there are still some common-sense restrictions on husbands and wives employed by the same company, most of the—by today's terms outlandish—rules of nepotism have long since been left out of corporate policy manuals. The switch to cafeteria-style benefits—which include before-tax contributions to day care, dependent care, elder care, and so on—helps in customizing what families today need and are willing to pay for. Some issues left to deal with here revolve principally around bench work. Telecommuting works very well for some job functions, but hands-on laboratory research is not one of them. Helping career scientists use some of these tools is a significant challenge to today's technology management.

I've highlighted some of the programs that seem to be working in industry. Now let's talk about some things that aren't working. First, let's talk about the dropouts I referred to earlier. Many people with science and engineering degrees who follow industrial career paths end up in jobs that do not show up on science and engineering surveys. People who pursue commercial business management tend not to classify themselves as technologists and so are lost to ACS salary surveys and the like. More and more people are achieving some semblance of their goals only to find out that “corporate America” isn't really what they want to do with their lives, and so they drop out to pursue other careers. Entrepreneurs and small business start-ups with women at the helm have skyrocketed in the last decade. Many of our talented women are choosing to make their own rules by running their own businesses instead of bending to corporate America's dictates. In many cases of balancing work and family issues, family is taking precedence, and we are beginning to see an increase in the phenomenon of re-entry—women who chose to stay home to raise a family now reentering the workforce 10, 15, 20 years after they left it.

I raised a question earlier about the pipeline. If the theory is correct, then where are the women? A glass ceiling of sorts still exists, and while the supports may not be made of concrete any more, the hurdles to get to the top are still, in many cases, substantial.

As I mentioned at the beginning, here are some key questions to ask of your leadership and of your organizations, to determine what hurdles remain. What is the atmosphere like in your organization? Is this a place where women come to work and stay? What's the retention rate? What do focus groups of employees say about the culture at your shop? Do you have women in leadership roles scattered throughout your place of work? Do you have to scramble to find them in order to make the right roster for an important committee? Are you using the same ones over and over? Do you have people willing to be mentors and coaches at work? With whom are these people working today—people who look just like them? What about the policy manual—does it still have 1980s dust on the cover? With the basics of good hiring and reasonable pay practices in place, if you've answered most of these questions positively, you probably have a pretty good place that entices women to come to work. If not, perhaps you have something to consider when you return.

To be sure you have a workplace that will enable women—and, for that matter, all employees—to be successful, here are some critical conditions for success. There has to be a way to measure and reward success that teaches others what success looks and feels like in your particular organization. There should be mechanisms in place to eliminate subtle barriers. After 20 years of news, most places have gotten the message and taken down the blatant, obvious barriers; but in many instances, subtle ones have crept in to replace them. Are there support structures in place? Are people using them? What about career reward and recognition—how do you reward people for doing good work? Is there a clear career path for them to follow? Is your company or department a place where employees can achieve their version of a comfortable balance between work and life?

In summary, we've seen data that say the pipeline is full. The critical issue today is how to retain talented scientists in industry. Atmosphere and other more tangible things that make up an organization—such as policies, external forces, and demographics—are all key indicators for retention that should be taken into account when reviewing organizations for their success in retaining talented women.

Today, women can be found at all levels of industrial organizations. We still have issues with promoting and retention. But—without a magnifying glass and without having to struggle too much—you can find women in many places in industry today, although not in the numbers nor at the higher levels of organizations that one might expect. There are many opportunities for improvement, even so; industry certainly is not nirvana. What about capturing the entrepreneurial spirit inside the halls of corporate America instead of driving it outside? Can corporate America dismantle some of its trappings that cause talented women (and other talented employees) to depart? Will there be an imbalance in supply and demand of scientists and engineers in the future workforce?

I hope this overview has been food for thought and will prompt some energetic, healthy discussions at the breakout sessions later today. Thanks for your attention, and I'd like to open the floor for discussion.


Maureen Chan, Bell Laboratories (retired): Being one of the women with 30-plus years of experience who is now off the charts, I wanted to make a comment about that break in salaries, especially as it gets to such a gap at the 20-year range. I think that gap, at least in part, can be due in industry to the way in which straight raises were structured over the years. They are very cumulative.

Merit review may be done separately from salary review. Someone might get an excellent merit review and 120 percent of their allotment as a result of that review; but when the salary review came, because of a lower starting salary or perhaps a break in service due to illness, maternity leave, and so on, the raise allotment for that individual would be low. So a lower raise could go to someone more highly rated because that's the way the salary structure worked—it is (or was) cumulative, and I think the combination of that cumulative structure and lower starting salaries for the older women just has never been solved.

Shannon Davis: I agree. It is hard to make up that differential once you already start at a lower base.

Margaret V. Merritt, Wellesley College: One of the points I think you were making about the pipeline being full is that there is not a shortage of people for these particular positions. I would argue with that basic premise. I think that in his presentation this morning, Arthur Bienenstock was suggesting the pipeline is going to be empty, that in fact we are not replacing people within that pipeline. I would also conclude that 20 percent of women in the pipeline does not represent the proportion of women in the population. Consequently, I think that one really has to work on the pipeline issue, particularly given the information presented this morning. I don't know if you have any comments on that.

Shannon Davis: Part of my bias exists from having lived in the pipeline for the last 15 years and the problems that I have encountered (as opposed to the problems affecting the entry-level positions). You can pick a 20 percent level, you can pick a 10 percent level, you can argue that women are 50 percent of the population so we ought to be 50 percent of the degrees that are granted; I am a lot more interested at this point in the cracks in the pipeline and where those people are going, because no matter what number you pick you ought to see those numbers track through—wherever they are.

Margaret Merritt: I agree with that particular notion, but I would like to make sure that we are not forgetting the entry people.

Shannon Davis: Absolutely. We need to have them.

Janet G. Osteryoung, National Science Foundation: You talked about where women aren't. I would like to mention something that everybody is aware of but often people don't think about, and that is the environment—particularly in a large company or in a government agency—the environment in which people work. I have worked in a lot of different organizations, and I have never seen a white male cleaning the toilets. In fact, it is not only almost always a woman, but a woman whose skin color is not lighter than the paneling in this room, and the same is true as you go up through the organization. The lowest levels are grossly overpopulated with women and with minorities of both sexes, and I think it is very difficult for people to think constructively about problems like this when they work in that kind of an environment.

Maria Spinu, DuPont: I think I am just optimistic. I really believe that in the future you will see a more realistic picture of the women chemists and what they have accomplished in a 20- or 30-year period. I know a lot of senior colleagues with wives who have earned a chemistry degree but have never practiced chemistry because they chose to follow their husbands to different locations to fulfill their husbands' careers. I think these days we, the women, are much more career oriented as well. So, the 20-to 30-year picture is going to look different when we look at women chemists who started their careers in the 1980s and 1990s.

Shannon Davis: That would be nice.

Victoria Friedensen, National Academy of Engineering: That was a really good presentation and dealt very well with a lot of complex issues. To go back to the first comment, however, about the pipeline: I think 20 percent is a very fair sort of an ideal. However, I would like to point out that more and more young women in the United States, especially young white women, are taking AP courses in high school. Girls are graduating from high school at ever higher rates, and their SAT scores, especially their math scores, are climbing incrementally. We have more kids who could, indeed, become chemists and chemical engineers going on to college, and yet the enrollment rates for chemistry and chemical engineering are plateauing. So while we are doing a very good job of increasing the numbers of engineers who are women, we are losing the market share of women who could be engineers.

One final comment about things to do in industry. If management is not made accountable for the success of the organization's people, you will not see women rising through the ranks. I think one of the first bullets ought to be a written policy in which senior managers are made accountable for the retention of women and underrepresented minorities on the staff.

Nancy B. Jackson, Sandia National Laboratory: I work in the Defense program's laboratories, and if you think it is hard to get women into the chemical sciences, you should try nuclear weapons. We have an outstanding woman who just became our executive vice president, which is a real treat for all of us. One of the first projects she took on addressed the difficulty at Sandia of attracting and retaining women in the first line of management, and she began a study in this area. She sent a team out to look at other places—Motorola, Los Alamos, and a number of other places that have different sorts of records with women—and she held several internal workshops.

One unexpected and interesting finding was that, in general, the women at Sandia felt that at the first level of management the managers were so bad that the women didn't want to be a part of that group. The women didn't have the same ego needs or perhaps salary needs that the men did, and so they didn't feel it was worth it to become a manager. Sandia is learning that one way to go about trying to attract more women into the first line of management is to be a little stricter about what they do with and accept from their managers, both male and female.

Donna J. Dean, National Institutes of Health: A couple of weeks ago at an NIH-related activity focusing on underrepresented minorities in science and medicine I heard a very good phrase related to the glass ceiling concept: the sticky floor. Even in places where there are no glass ceilings, there is still a sticky floor holding people back.

You were talking about people at the entry level—let's call it the bachelor's-degree level—that industry pulls out of the pipeline into industrial positions in chemistry, the people that you are actively recruiting. If you don't hire those people at the entry level, and if your counterparts in industry don't hire them for a chemistry position, what do those bachelor's degree graduates in chemistry and chemical engineering do? Do you have any idea?

Shannon Davis: That is a really good question. I don't know where they go. If some of the numbers that we had are accurate, I am perplexed. I don't know where they go.

Sally Hunnicutt, Virginia Commonwealth University: They go into health-related fields, I think. Probably if you removed them from the pool of bachelor's degree recipients in both engineering and chemistry, you would find that the numbers of women going into chemistry are lower. I don't know what the numbers are, but isn't it closer to 50:50 now in medical schools?

Donna Dean: That's not really my question. I am presuming that the people who are going to graduate school or medical school are not the people who are in the front lines applying for industrial positions at the bachelor's level.

Shannon Davis: You're saying that bachelor's-degree engineers were intending to go into industry to start with and if we don't hire them, what do they do?

Donna Dean: Right.

Shannon Davis: I haven't a clue.

Victoria Friedensen: They go into marketing.

Shannon Davis: They go into marketing and sales. They get their MBA and join an Internet start-up firm.

Participant: There is a big divide between chemistry and chemical engineering.

Shannon Davis: It is huge.

Faith Morrison, Michigan Technological University: Actually, almost the same question had been rolling around in my head, but it's a little different because I think the answer to your question is that they are underemployed in some parallel field. I can name you five black women chemical engineers from our institution who were unable to find an entry-level job in the last 5 years. People think that everybody who gets a bachelor's of science degree and perseveres to the end in chemical engineering gets an entry-level job in their field of choice, but it's not true. So, you can't take the number of degrees awarded as the number of engineers produced. There is an enormous leak in your pipe at the very beginning: some of it is due to low performance on grades and then using GPAs as the cutoff for hiring and some is disaffection.

My sister-in-law, who is a chemical engineer, never even pursued a job in chemical engineering. By the time she finished, she was so disgusted with the field that she wiped her hands clean and just never even tried. I have anecdotally encountered other people who have for whatever reasons—climate or atmosphere—just decided, This is not for me. Those people drop right off your charts, so you can't count them anywhere along the line. They never pursued this career.

Catherine Woytowicz, American Chemical Society: One thing that I think is really important is, Why are we “taking it”? I haven't heard one person get up here and say, “I am going to do these five things when I get home.”

I urge you to do a couple of things when you go home today. First, that five-page pink handout that you have is a list of biographies. Don't take it home and make five pink paper airplanes. Take it home and contact some of those people. If you need someone in industry, find an industrial contact from that list. If you need someone in academia, find somebody from that list. If you need someone in the government, find somebody from that list. Vow to yourself that you will not throw that packet somewhere and let it collect dust. Don't put it in a drawer. Don't put it in a pile on your desk. Take that handout and make it a priority to contact one person from that list and start a network. If you don't have a network where you are, start making one. Stop taking this kind of thing.

This goes back to mentoring, too. Find one person in your department or in your community that you can mentor. If you need a mentor, find one. I was going to ask, Where were you when I was in grad school? Where were you when I was an undergrad and I really needed you? But the truth of the matter is, I still need you now. I am early in my career, and I could use a mentor—a better mentor, maybe, than I've had in the past. I have had a lot of men who haven't taken an interest in my career, and now I have butted my head against some of these glass ceiling issues, partly because I haven't taken advantage of a mentor.

That's what I am going to do for myself, and then network, network, network. Get out there and do something about it. And, if you say that language makes a difference, make a commitment to use “he or she” and inclusive language yourself. And stand up for your colleagues. If one of the women in your department has a problem, make sure you stand behind her. We are all guilty at times of saying, “I had it hard. She should have it hard, too.” It doesn't have to be that way.

If we want to encourage people to stay and we want to retain young women, especially talented young women, we had better get behind them and push. If it's true that the pipeline is absolutely fine, then let's get some caulk and patch the cracks.

Jong-On Hahm, National Research Council: It may be that the pipeline is a problem. Retention is a particularly acute problem for chemical engineering at least; I saw a statistic a couple of years ago indicating that chemical engineering had the lowest rate of participation in the engineering workforce by its women graduates. It was only half, and this was the lowest of all engineering fields. So, if 25 percent of the degrees were going to women, only 12 percent were working in the chemical engineering field, and again this was the lowest of all the engineering fields. If somebody could give me a good explanation, that would be wonderful.

E. Ann Nalley, Cameron University: I'll tell you where those women are: They have husbands who have jobs. They are not mobile. They don't go to the big chemical companies; they go to the small companies—there are lots of small chemical companies in Oklahoma, in Kansas, and in New Mexico. They are the chemists at the wastewater treatment plant. They don't get surveyed. And they are not members of the American Chemical Society.

I am on the ACS Board of Directors and I have tried to recruit them, but they don't see that they need to be members. They are out there, but they cannot move, and they cannot go to the big companies. They don't go on to graduate school, although most of the people who graduate with B.S. degrees in chemistry are practicing chemists. They are the Texas State chemists. They don't get paid very well, but they do have jobs in chemistry, and I wish somehow we could include them in our survey.

I agree, also, that we need the pipeline to be expanding. If we don't get the young girls into it, then our pipeline is shrinking, not expanding. I don't agree that the pipeline is full. It has a long way to go before it is full.

Shannon Davis: I have to agree with Ann. I would love to see those people included in the surveys, because the more research I did the more concerned I got. I think the pipeline ought to continually grow bigger and bigger; but I really also want to applaud the woman who said, “Let's go find some caulk.” Let's go find some caulk, folks.