The importance of women in chemistry - our experiences at Croda
Even with advancements regarding gender equality, this day remains more relevant than ever with the UN reporting, “Women are typically given smaller research grants than their male colleagues and, while they represent 33.3% of all researchers, only 12% of members of national science academies are women” (1). This statistic shows although girls and women hold a place within scientific fields, we still need to utilise this day to highlight the importance of gender equality within the industry, ensuring the gender gap is addressed and transformed.
This year’s theme for IDWGIS is “Innovate. Demonstrate. Elevate. Advance. Sustain. I.D.E.A.: Bringing communities forward for sustainable and equitable development” (2). 2023’s focus will relate the role of women and girls in science to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) , and SDG 17 (means of implementation) (3).
As a part of our sustainability commitment of becoming Climate, Land, and People Positive by 2030, Croda is happy to report 38.3% of women in leadership positions in 2022, which is up 4% from 2020, and that number will only get higher. As of January 2023, Croda’s main Board is officially gender balanced, with appointment of two new female non-executive directors (4). You can learn more about gender equality and other sustainability goals Croda is committed to here.
Women LEAD (Leadership, Education, Awareness and Development) is a new affinity group formed out of a sub-committee of the NA regional Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Committee. Women LEAD, headed by Angelica Matos and Farahdia Edouard launched on January 24th with a roundtable virtual discussion with Sandra Breene, where she shared her career journey and experiences as a woman leader in Croda. Through various roundtable fireside discussions with internal and external guest speakers throughout the year, this affinity group will aim to provide a safe place for members to come and discuss the relevance and importance of gender balance, share experiences, challenges, and bring a diverse set of perspectives to help educate, support and empower women at Croda.
To celebrate our women in chemistry, we’re highlighting some members of the global Personal Care team to learn about their journey into the science industry, their personal experiences, and what they love about being women in science. We need to inspire young women and girls to become the next generation of women in chemistry and increase representation of women in science.
First, let’s meet Hannah Gorman…
“The first thing that really got me intrigued by science was when I’d look at the back of my shampoo bottle and see this long list of ingredients. What are all these things?! Why are they all in there?! How do they all work together to make this thing that cleans my hair?! I really wanted to understand what made up all these items that I used and took for granted every day. This helped to shape my decision to study Chemistry at A-Level and then go on to study it at university. Now that I am in an industry that I love and those ingredients on the back of my shampoo bottle are no longer a mystery, I love trying to intrigue and excite the next generation about science. I regularly visit primary schools to teach science lessons and one of my key aims is to break down those barriers to entering a science-related career from a very early age and help them understand they can be anything they want to be!”
Hannah is one of our many STEM ambassadors here at Croda who visit local schools to show that not all scientists wear lab coats! A ‘scientist’ isn’t always a stereotypical Einstein look a-like, and it is important to break the bias, remove preconceptions and show our younger generations that a career in science can be limitless! With an inquisitive nature that is encouraged inside and outside the classroom, we are already guiding children to be innovative.
“My name is Kumpal Mehta and I am an Applications Team Leader in Beauty Care, based in the US. My journey in science started when I attended an engineering focused high school, and learned the basics of electrical and computer engineering. My mom’s Chemistry background combined with my interest in engineering concepts as a whole inspired me to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. I joined Croda as a Graduate Trainee in 2014 and rotated through Synthesis for PTIC, Process Development and Personal Care Marketing. Upon completion of the program, I began my role in Personal Care R&D. Joining the Personal Care team showed me that I could merge my love for beauty/make-up and science. My favourite part of my role at Croda is utilizing our specialized ingredients to create cosmetic formulations that meet growing consumer demand for clean and sustainable beauty products.”
Kumpal’s combined passion for engineering and chemistry is inspiring for women in STEM and how they can change our world by developing problem-solving skills and building confidence within a male-dominated industry. The dynamic experience Kumpal has gained with Croda shows how our graduate scheme is an excellent opportunity to develop knowledge within several areas of our business and find the path that is right for women in the chemical industry.
To support women’s development, we are rolling our gender-balanced shortlisting recruitment process across Croda with a target of having 80% of shortlists gender balanced by end of 2023 demonstrating our commitment to People Positive smart science in action (4). Interested in developing your career with Croda? Check out our career pages!
“My name is Maggie Tintignac and I am the Design and Communications Coordinator for Sederma in France. I studied design at the Estienne school in Paris with a specific focus on medical and scientific illustration. I joined Sederma in 2005 and have had the chance since then to utilise my skills in design and it is my pleasure to make science accessible to all. It is exciting to collaborate with our scientific people here at Sederma and to think about how to make high-tech technologies, active ingredient mechanism of action or just skin metabolism easily understandable. I am pleased to actively contribute to the global awareness of Sederma’s innovation and of its employee’s knowledge and hard-work. I am personally involved in recycling, better consuming and biodiversity preservation and I feel proud to be part of a company with strong commitment in being “land, people and climate positive” by 2030. I fully believe that smart science can improve lives!”
Creativity is key in the chemical industry; Maggie’s design skills are crucial to delivering our product innovation to customers. It is important to show girls and young women in science that women have a valuable place both inside and outside the laboratory with science going much further beyond what the stereotypes tell us.
“Science conquered me even in my childhood, when I accompanied my older brother in his PhD studies at the Sirius laboratory, former National Laboratory of Luz Sincroton, in Campinas, in the interior of São Paulo (Brazil). Since then, I sought knowledge in basic science (chemistry) and made my professional path through different areas, but with a common goal: to do science, in a clearer and more honest way, exercising knowledge. I graduated in Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry from the State University of Campinas, and in the same year I entered the master's degree, in the area of biochemistry. Later, I worked at Solvay, in the field of paints and development of rheological modifiers.
After some time, I joined Croda, where since then I have played several roles within the R&D team, working with projects ranging from Synthesis to Home Care through to Water Treatment, Smart Materials, and Personal Care . In parallel, I started the long-awaited doctoral project in the area of molecular modelling, focusing on the development of studies in the area of enzymes that neutralize prions that cause neurological diseases in humans, whose part of the contamination occurs in surgical centres. In the meantime, I also took a specialization course in Project Management, in addition to completing a specific specialization course in cleaning products formulation.
What inspires me the most, every day, is the beauty of discovery and the improvements that we can make, thanks to science. It is a world apart, where we can increasingly perceive the importance of knowledge in our lives.”
The nurturing of Izabella’s passion for science from childhood shows the importance of capturing girls interest in science at such a young age through activities such as STEM outreach, but also having more women in the field to inspire their daughters and family members. This provides the opportunity for women to be at the forefront of innovative developments, leading the way to improving our smart science to help change lives.
“I have started my career as an intern in Natura, in Brazil, right in the Personal Care department. There, I have learned a lot about formulating, science and I have met great researchers. I have graduated as a biologist with a major in Plant Physiology. I have published about the theme in Science Reports. Then I got my post-graduation in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I am in love with this area. Each day I fall in love a bit more! The world of textures, colours, sensory! I feel like an alchemist 😊”
"My name is Holly Jones and I am a Lead Applications Scientist in the Personal Care Team based at the Cowick site in the UK. I graduated with a Masters Degree in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield and was sponsored by Croda to complete the SCS Diploma in Cosmetic Science which fulfilled my curiosity to learn more about both the technical and commercial aspects of Personal Care. I joined Croda in 2017 and my role involves formulation development, EPD/NPD projects and technical support to customers and Sales/Marketing. I also run the UK Personal Care trained sensory panel. I previously worked for Reckitt in R&D focussing on fragrance/candle/wax melt development, testing and sensory analysis. I love the variety of my job and the mix of creativity and science. My job has given me the opportunity to travel and interact with people from all over the Croda globe.
From a young age, I have been interested in science and always asked my parents “why?” as I wanted to understand more about the world around me and how things work. Croda's vast portfolio of ingredients touches most aspects of your everyday life which appealed to me. I also really enjoy getting involved with STEM events; I love seeing the pure joy and excitement on the young people’s faces and they ask the best questions which make you think outside the box! I hope to encourage the next generation of scientists by showing that science is fun, it really is all around you and you can make a difference to the world that we live in."
It is always important to be inspired by the people and the world around us. Ensuring we have more women like these in the chemical industry means we can continue with the positive progress we have made as a community within science whilst reducing and addressing the gender gap in our industry.
What an inspirational group of women in chemistry! This International Day of Women and Girls in Science help us to celebrate women and girls leading scientific innovation and help to break down the barriers and stereotypes that currently hold women back.
Have a look at our careers page for the chance to develop your career working with our inspirational global teams to develop smart science to improve lives.