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Lack Of Diversity

February 22, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 8

Feb. 1, page 20: U.K. officials use gas chromatography with flame ionization detection, not GC-mass spectrometry, for roadside detection of fuel fraud.

Congratulations to all the 2016 ACS national award winners (C&EN, Jan. 4, page 29). However, I hope I am not the only one to notice the lack of diversity, with 95% of the winners being male. As a relatively recent ACS member I have to ask, is this list typical or acceptable?

Perhaps there needs to be an examination of the awards process. For example, are enough leading female and underrepresented minority chemists being nominated? Are their achievements being championed? What are the compositions of the awarding committees? Was there an awareness of unconscious bias when making selections?

ACS is surely strengthened by ensuring equality across its activities, by increasing participation from women and underrepresented groups, and by supporting a wider talent pool. Diversity is crucial in delivering excellence and creativity in chemistry and across the society. Award-winning female chemists can also be important role models for the younger generations and for supporting women to stay in science.

Saiful Islam
Bath, England

I have reviewed the 2016 ACS national award winners. Of the 66 winners, only five are women. ACS, I am appalled.

Frederick A. Beland
Little Rock

Does ACS practice what it preaches? I receive frequent “ACS Diversity eBrief” e-mails from ACS, but—year after year—I note extremely low diversity among the ACS award winners. Yes, women and minorities are underrepresented in the field of chemistry. But seriously, qualified women applied for only five of 66 awards this year?

Qualified women and minorities certainly exist for some of these awards. If they aren’t applying, we need to figure out why. I suggest starting with a simple change: Instead of a call for “nominations,” try calling for “applications.” The psychological difference between those two words could be one of the many barriers to applicant diversity.

Liskin Swint-Kruse
Fairway, Kan

Editor’s note: In a previous ACS Comment (C&EN, Feb. 1, page 39), Madeleine Jacobs, chair of the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs, highlighted efforts to improve diversity among ACS national award winners. In this week’s ACS Comment (see page 40), George M. Bodner, chair of the ACS Board Committee on Grants & Awards (G&A), and Valerie J. Kuck, past-chair of G&A, also discuss these efforts.

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