05. May 2023

International Network for Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Wins Award International Network for Equal Opportunity and Inclusion Wins Award

“Women In Supramolecular Chemistry (WISC)” project honored with Hildegard Hamm-Brücher Prize

The German Chemical Society (GDCh) is to present the Hildegard Hamm-Brücher Prize for Equal Opportunities in Chemistry to the project entitled “Women In Supramolecular Chemistry (WISC) – an international network supporting equality, diversity and inclusion within supramolecular chemistry.” The team led by Assistant Professor Dr. Anna McConnell from the University of Siegen will receive the award on September 4 at an event to mark the opening of the GDCh Science Forum Chemistry (WiFo) in Leipzig. Also on board is Dr. Larissa von Krbek from the Kekulé Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bonn. The researcher is head of an Emmy Noether research unit and a member of the Matter Transdisciplinary Research Area.

The prizewinning team (from the top, left to right):
The prizewinning team (from the top, left to right): - Jennifer Hiscock, Anna McConnell, Claudia Caltagirone, Cally Haynes, Emily Draper, Marion Kieffer, Jennifer Leigh, Anna Slater, Charlotte Hind, Larissa von Krbek, Sarah Pike and Paola Posocco. © Photos: personal/Barbara Frommann—University of Bonn
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In the chemical sciences, women have bleaker prospects when it comes to securing continued employment or even moving up the career ladder. They are more likely to be given short-term contracts with little job security, publish less and are cited less often, while disproportionately fewer women sit on editorial advisory boards, get nominated for prizes and file patent applications. A 2018 study by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) revealed that many highly talented women abandon an academic career before they have reached their full potential. The action taken so far to combat this will never be enough to achieve gender parity according to the GDCh.

“WISC is a network for women, people who identify as women, and other minorities,” Dr. Larissa von Krbek says. “It’s designed to help people from these minority groups feel less isolated and alone.” In this spirit, the team from WISC are keen to get involved themselves in order to bring about change and invite the whole supramolecular community to do the same. The WISC ran an online survey to gauge the needs of this community and used the findings to devise numerous supporting initiatives such as a mentoring network, community clusters for creating peer communities, integration and diversity workshops, and summer schools for early-career researchers.

A flagship initiative with great resonance

The selection committee for the prize called the WISC a “flagship initiative whose resonance extends beyond the world of supramolecular chemistry.” It described the project as a shining example of how dedicated women chemists have successfully come together for the long term in an international network in order to achieve greater equal opportunity and inclusion while still fulfilling their obligations at work. It was the committee’s view that, with their tireless hard work and dedication to the equal opportunity cause and the values they espouse along the way, the team demonstrate the same kind of unwavering attitude that also characterized Hildegard Hamm-Brücher herself.

Exemplary commitment

The GDCh has awarded the Hildegard Hamm-Brücher Prize for Equal Opportunities in Chemistry since 2021. With the €7,500 award, the society wants to send out a visible signal and honor exemplary commitment to equal opportunity in chemistry.

About Hildegard Hamm-Brücher

The chemist Hildegard Hamm-Brücher (1921–2016) completed her doctorate under Nobel laureate Professor Heinrich Wieland in Munich in 1945. After the end of the war, she was appointed science editor of the “Neue Zeitung” newspaper, where she met Theodor Heuss, her political mentor, and many other democratically minded people. Hildegard Hamm-Brücher was seen as the “grande dame” of post-war politics in Germany. As well as freedom and democracy, she also embodied an approach that was based consistently on values and fought tirelessly against the ills of society. Among other things, she campaigned for a better education system and encouraged women to become more involved. In 1994, she was the first woman to be nominated as a candidate in Germany’s presidential elections. Besides the public offices that she held, she also demonstrated great social engagement and received numerous honors.

Press release from the German Chemical Society: https://en.gdch.de/service-information/press-and-public-relations/press-service-chemistry.html

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