The project “Women In Supramolecular Chemistry” (WISC), an international network supporting equality, diversity, and inclusion within supramolecular chemistry, has received the Hildegard Hamm-Brücher Award for equal opportunities in chemistry from the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh, German Chemical Society). The award was presented at the GDCh-Wissenschaftsforum Chemie (WiFo 2023) in Leipzig, Germany on September 4, 2023.
With the prize, which is endowed with EUR 7,500, the GDCh wants to send a signal and honor exemplary commitment to equal opportunities in chemistry. Hildegard Hamm-Brücher (1921–2016) was a chemist and received her doctorate in 1945 under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Heinrich Wieland in Munich, Germany. After the war, she became science editor at Neue Zeitung. There she met Theodor Heuss, her political mentor. Hildegard Hamm-Brücher was considered the “grande dame” of German post-war politics. She not only stood for freedom and democracy, but also for consistently value-based action. Among other things, she campaigned for a better education system and encouraged women to get more involved. In 1994, she was the first woman to be nominated in the German Presidential election.
Women Chemists Joining Forces and Creating Community
In the chemical sciences, women have fewer chances of being retained or even promoted. They get short-term, precarious contracts more often, publish less, and are cited less often. Disproportionately fewer women sit on editorial boards, are nominated for awards, and file patent applications. A 2018 study by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), UK, showed that many talented women leave academia before they have reached their full potential. Existing measures to counteract this are not sufficient to achieve gender parity.
The award-winning project WISC aims to create an international community and access to resources for all supramolecular chemists. The project also supports the retention and advancement of all who identify as women at every career stage and tries to remove possible obstacles. It is important to the WISC team to get involved to bring about change rather than just talking about it. Through an online survey, the network identified the needs of the supramolecular community. Based on the results, they developed numerous supporting initiatives such as a mentoring network, community clusters to build peer communities, and workshops on inclusion and diversity for young scientists.
The award selection committee sees the WISC initiative as a “lighthouse with a radiance that goes beyond supramolecular chemistry”. The project is an example of how committed women chemists have successfully and sustainably joined forces in addition to their professional obligations to form an international network in order to achieve more equal opportunities and inclusion.
Also of Interest
Video: Empowering and Supporting Everybody,
Members of the Women In Supramolecular Chemistry (WISC) network about recent activities and personal motivations
Inaugural Hildegard Hamm-Brücher Award for Equal Opportunities in Chemistry,
Petra Mischnick, Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany, honored for her longstanding commitment to equal opportunities