Dow Women in STEM: Breaking Down Gender Barriers Since 1929

Dow has always been a strong supporter of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. And our female colleagues have continued to lead the way for others. Just a few outstanding examples from across the decades …

Sylvia Stoesser, Ph.D.

Dow’s first woman research scientist, hired in 1929, earned 29 patents, five of which led to a process enabling the Dowell Division, a billion-dollar-a-year business. She also laid the groundwork for polystyrene used in a variety of plastics today.

Sylvia Stoesser, Ph.D., Research Scientist, circa 1928.
Photo courtesy of Science History Institute.

Pauline Hopfer and Mary Thayer

In late 1942, researchers from Dow Chemical, Corning Glass Works and the Mellon Institute began meeting to exchange ideas and information. Chemists Pauline Hopfer and Mary Thayer were among them, making these noted researchers two of the earliest women scientists to have careers in STEM; they were also part of a research team that changed an industry.

Shortly after those early meetings, a formal agreement was signed between Dow Chemical and Corning Glass, forming Dow Corning.

First Dow Corning Research Conference at Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., April 1, 1943.
Dow Corning historic photo.

Ruth Zimmerman and Helena Corsello

Ruth Zimmerman and Helena Corsello conducted research with the Carnegie-Mellon research group in the late 1940s, focusing on potential uses for organosilicon chemistry. The group gave birth to a new industry for using silicone materials in applications ranging from automotive to personal care to electronics.

Corsello later worked on silicone rubber at Dow Corning while Zimmerman focused on organofunctional silicones.

Research scientists Ruth Zimmerman and Helena Corsello with the Carnegie-Mellon research group, circa 1948.
Dow Corning historic photo.

Bettye Washington Greene, Ph.D.

Dr. Greene joined Dow in 1965. Specializing in latex products, her work led to the use of latex in a variety of paper products. As a founding member of the Midland, Michigan, chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., a national organization for African-American women, she continued to help other women of color achieve their dreams in STEM-related fields.

Bettye Washington Greene, Ph.D., Senior Research Specialist (date unknown).
Photo courtesy of Science History Institute.

Jamie Cohen, Ph.D.

Dr. Cohen joined Dow in 2007 as part of the Company’s Research Assignment Program for talented graduate students. She worked on several leading-edge projects for Dow, such as high-voltage lithium ion batteries for electronic and hybrid vehicles. Currently, she serves as R&D Director for Chemical Science, Core R&D, and leads quantum-computing and in-silico-related efforts in chemical science.

Jamie Cohen, Ph.D., R&D Director, Chemical Science, Core R&D.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Cohen and other contemporary women in STEM today?