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Supporting Minorities

March 29, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 13

Some recent issues of C&EN have brought up ethnicity and the world of chemistry groups established to support the efforts of African American, Hispanic, and Native American scientists. The present situation of the State of Israel has also been discussed.

I know of no group concerned with the future of American Jews in the chemical world now or in the past. I received my bachelor’s in chemical engineering way back in 1951. At that time, Jewish quotas for medical schools were an accepted fact, and Jewish chemical engineers were simply not hired by the chemical industry.

I was one of six Jewish graduates in a class of 30 at the College of Engineering of a prestigious eastern university. The brilliant top member of our group was also in the top 10 of the entire College of Engineering. We six had standard interviews by the major chemical companies, but not one of us was offered a position. Our “number one” spent his entire career working for the federal government. I started my career in the small laboratory of a plastics fabricator and wound up owning my own company in a different field of chemistry. We had no one to turn to for help in pursuing our chosen careers, and I hope students belonging to other ethnic groups appreciate the help they are getting now.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village, Calif.


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