Project Details Creation of IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast Series and a Global Network in Support of Eliminating the Gender Gap in the Chemical Sciences

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 March 2020
End Date:
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Building upon recent momentum and visibility from the 2019 and 2020 Global Women’s Breakfast events, and in conjunction with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11 each year), we propose that IUPAC host the Global Women’s Breakfast every year through February 2023. The overall goal of this project is to attract more women into the IUPAC organization and also to support eliminating the gender gap in the chemical sciences.

Each year the GWB will be held on a single day around February 12. The overall purpose of GWB2020 was to establish an on-going virtual network where women in the chemical and related sciences can connect with each other in a meaningful way to support their professional aspirations.

Beyond just the single day event, the task group will work to facilitate and encourage different types of connections between the organizing groups. These connections can continue to evolve throughout the years, thereby serving as a resource to women chemists, especially those with limited numbers of women in their organizations.

A major focal point is the GWB website, <>. The breakfast events are displayed as markers on a global map. Each event has its own mini-event-page that can be edited by the organizer to provide details, flyers, photos, etc. Each breakfast event is self-organized and self-funded. There is no fee for registering a breakfast on the IUPAC site. Branded promotional materials, informational slide decks, and other resources are provided to make it easy for organizers to do their work. Only registered organizers have access to the organizer directory and to the promotional materials.

In between the GWB events, the project task group plan to hold quarterly calls to evaluate event outcomes, planning for the following year’s event, and developing new materials and resources for the GWB community. A priority is to organize a GWB webinar series for topics on gender equality and to highlight the research accomplishments of women leaders in the chemical sciences. This will serve to maintain and strengthen the network while providing opportunities to women scientists to present their work to a global audience.

Additional collaborative initiatives will be pursued related to the Gender Gap study, the IUPAC Distinguished Women award winners; other female IUPAC award winners (i.e., Solvay); and IUPAC leaders in the Bureau and in Divisions/Committees.


On January 18, 2011 the first IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast: Women Sharing a Chemical Moment in Time was organized as part of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC2011) ( On that day, there were close to 100 breakfasts in 44 countries attended by approximately 5000 women chemists, making it one of the largest gatherings of women scientists at that time.

IUPAC as an organization has made limited progress over the last number of years to increase gender and racial diversity and inclusion in its leadership ranks. The first ever woman President of IUPAC, Nicole Moreau (France) was elected in 2010, and only one other woman, Natalia Tarasova (Russia), has served as IUPAC president since then. At present there are no women serving as IUPAC officers. However, there are four out of ten women serving in the Bureau as Elected Member.

In the eight technical divisions, there are women in leadership roles, with approximately one per division, except Division VI which has two. However, Division I and Division V have no women in leadership roles. Standing committees have at least one woman in a leadership role in each except for ICGCSD and the IDCNS. Clearly there are opportunities to recruit more women to participate in IUPAC and to support leadership development of the women already in our Union.

In 2011, the Distinguished Women in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering Awards was launched. This award is presented to approximately twelve women every two years. This awards program and symposium is typically afforded a prominent place in the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress program, but at time it felt forced and artificial or an afterthought by the Congress organizers. There has been little effort to recruit the awardees into meaningful activities or leadership roles within the Union.

Activities surrounding the IUPAC100 celebrations have presented an opportunity to expand participation and leadership opportunities for women and younger scientists. The 2019 Global Women’s Breakfast event was held on February 12, one day after the International Day of Women and Girls in Science ( The theme was “Empowering Women in Chemistry: A Global Networking Event”. Participation was approximately doubled compared to 2011 (>50 countries and 204 breakfasts), facilitated by the custom IUPAC100 website and improved marketing via social media and major scientific societies as part of the IYPT celebrations.

The Periodic Table of Younger Chemists awards program ( was complimentary to the Global Women’s Breakfast as several of the early PT Chemist awardees either participated in or organized breakfast events. PT Chemist awardees were selected from 53 countries and the final ratio of male to females was 1:1.

At the IUPAC100 celebration program in Paris, it was announced that the Global Women’s Breakfast would return in 2020. It was unclear whether participation in this follow up event would match that of 2019 without all the IUPAC100 and IYPT excitement. The IYCN agreed to partner in the 2020 GWB event.

In late 2019, a series of conference calls were held with 2019 event organizers and leaders to get their feedback on positive and negative aspects of their events, and suggestions for improving the GWB website. These improvements were incorporated into a new website within the domain ( Major improvements were easy to access promotional materials, slides and videos; a directory of organizers to facilitate communication; and the ability to log in and edit their own breakfast event page.

With less than three months advance planning time, response was amazingly positive. On February 12, 2020, more than 240 events were held in 53 countries involving approximately 10,000 participants despite coronavirus challenges in China. Bayer provided a 00 direct sponsorship to IUPAC for the GWB. The Royal Society of Chemistry provided in-kind support by financially supporting breakfast events. In early February, the ACS Women Chemists Committee also offered mini-grants to organizations organizing breakfasts.

The theme of the 2020 event was “Building bonds to create future leaders”, focusing on leadership development. While most organizations hosting breakfasts were colleges and universities, a few were high schools, and there were many events hosted by Bayer and Dow. Other organizations like Clorox, the US EPA, and the OPCW organized breakfast events. The success of the 2020 event demonstrated continued interest and the potential to expand the scope of the event into more high schools and industry venues and perhaps partners like science museums. A welcome video was developed and shared along with a webinar interview by March Garson with Frances Separovich. A post-event survey of organizers is planned to obtain feedback and suggestions for the 2021 event.

Recently, IUPAC leaders, Mei Hung Chiu and Mark Cesa participated in the Gender Gap in Science project (, supported by the International Science Council. The draft final report clearly indicates that women face serious barriers to success in science careers, bias in publishing, and persistent pay inequity in the workplace ( Recommendations from this report can be used to guide future topics and discussions as part of the GWB. Recent discussions between Richard Hartshorn and representatives from RSC indicate that a collaboration on the GWB and the Gender Gap project would be beneficial.

The enormous response to the 2019 and 2020 GWB events demonstrated the need to build an organization of both men and women that can begin addressing the barriers and inequalities faced by women in the chemical sciences. IUPAC is in a unique position to serve as a leading organization and global platform where these difficult and persistent issues can be addressed in a transparent manner. Gender equality is one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals. As quoted in the Gender Gap report, and stated by the UN,

“gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”

We propose to establish an IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast series to occur in February each year to leverage global attention for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A core group of leaders, i.e., the task group listed on this proposal will work to organize and publicize the GWB within their organizations and networks. The breakfast organizer community will be developed and expanded to increase the impact of this project. We will seek to coordinate with RSC and other organizations to incorporate recommendations of the Gender Gap study. This task group will also develop more collaborative initiatives both internal and external to the Union, supporting the overall mission of the GWB, that is, to achieve gender equality in the chemical sciences.


The GWB2021 website, including registration for event organizers, opened at the end of November, 2020.

A report to be published in Chemistry International will appear in the July 2021 issue.

May 2021 update – The IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast, GWB2022, will be held on 16 February 2022, shortly after the United Nations Day of Women and Girls in Science. Registration for GWB2022 will open in late June 2021 in order to allow breakfast event organizers plenty of time to plan and advertise their events and to connect with other organizers. The theme for GWB2022 will once again be “Empowering Diversity in Science” and the primary hashtag will be #GWB2022. Start Planning!

Page last update 25 May 2021