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Against the under-representation of women in the teaching of chemistry and chemical engineering

la place des femmes dans l'enseignement scientifique

Three teachers from the Chemistry Department of Marseille (Carine Franklin, Florence Teddé-Zambelli and Mathias Monnot) are authors of a publication in collaboration with many other teachers in France on the need to rebalance the historical under-representation of women in chemistry and chemical engineering teaching. This article in the Journal of Chemical Education is the result of a collaboration initiated by colleagues at the University of Toulouse and involving the Universities of Rennes, Normandy, Lorraine and Aix-Marseille.

The work shows that despite the presence of women in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering, the teaching programs never mention women. For example, the names of chemical reactions and chemical processes are almost all men's names. To test this hypothesis of over-representation of men in the curricula, 600 students from the 5 universities involved in the project were surveyed to find out their opinions on the subject. The vast majority of students had not even noticed that only male scientists were mentioned in the programs. In fact, 90% of the students were unable to identify a famous female scientist in the field of chemistry or chemical engineering. This article is a call to reflect on the invisibility of women in our educational content and offers concrete examples to begin to address it.

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