The idea for an award that would honor women’s contributions came from Kelly Dobos, cosmetic technical manager with Sun Chemical who is the current president of the SCC.
Dobos, who collects old cosmetic chemistry books (she has nearly 70 right now), came across one entitled “Canitics: The art and science of hair dyeing,” written by Florence E. Wall.
“I wanted to know more about her and found out she was the first woman to receive the Society of Cosmetic Chemists Medal Awards,” said Dobos.
And after doing some research it became apparent that SCC’s new award would be named for Wall.
“I wanted to specifically acknowledge the contributions of women in the field of cosmetic science and the legacy of Florence E. Wall. Not only did she help establish the science of hair dyes, she was instrumental in the development of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938,” Dobos told Happi.
Wall was a recognized authority, and all told, she published five books and more than 300 articles, and was the first female recipient of the SCC’s Maison G. deNavarre Medal Award in 1956.
Heck, Wall even appeared on national TV (see photos above).
It seems only fitting that now she has an honor in her own name.
The Florence Wall Women in Cosmetic Chemistry Award will recognize a woman for significant accomplishments to the cosmetic industry through her technical contributions, leadership skills, and business excellence. According to SCC, it will honor a woman that:
• inspires others through her work and demonstrates unwavering passion for the cosmetic science industry.
• is a bold, well-known leader with a proven record of growth, success and influence in her profession or community.
• understands the importance of innovative ideas, education, mentoring and service to others.
According to Erica O’Grady, executive director/CEO, Society of Cosmetic Chemists, there was quite a response to the new award; 39 nominations (including a few duplicates) were submitted. SCC has since narrowed the pool down to 18 nominees who have been verified to meet all of the qualifications.
And now, the hard part begins.
When Happi spoke with O’Grady in mid-July, the committee was ready to meet to select the winner, who will be announced sometime in September.
The Florence Wall Women in Cosmetic Chemistry Award, which consists of recognition and an honorarium, is sponsored by the Rodan + Fields Concept to Commerce Innovation program, which provides a way for individual inventors or companies to initiate a partnership with Rodan + Fields. Rodan + Fields evaluates every submission it receives based on the information provided and provides an initial assessment, usually within 28 days of submission, according to the skin care company, which was founded by Stanford-trained dermatologists, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields.
This new award does follow in the groundswell of the greater social context around women’s equality in the workplace and other issues.
Within the cosmetic formulation realm, female participation has been on the rise across the industry, and within SCC specifically.
It wasn’t too long ago that men in suits dominated the attendance at technical meetings and trade shows, and occupied boards.
“The sciences have historically been male dominated and nearly all of the SCC Awards were named after men, but we’re seeing a shift in diversity,” said Dobos. “I hope this award is inspiring to chemists looking to make their mark in the industry.”
“I think it is indicative of what is going on in industry itself. A lot more women are part of this industry,” noted O’Grady, “There is more STEM involvement; more women in chemistry. We have seen uptick in women involved in and joining the organization.”
Currently, the 12-member SCC executive board is dominated by women. Just a few years ago, it was a 60/40 split male to female. Today, there are just two men on board.
And women represent the vast majority of SCC’s student membership, too, according to O’Grady.
The award does not need to be presented annually. However, with a large pool of applicants this year—and a steady stream of women entering the workforce in this industry—it will be interesting to see what happens in 2020.
Happi will provide coverage of the winner when she is announced in the Fall.