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 …

Photo of Dr. Sylvia Stoesser, research scientist, circa 1928

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

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.

Photo of Pauline Hopfer and Mary Thayer at first Dow Corning Research Conference at Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., April 1, 1943

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

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.

Photo of Ruth Zimmerman and Helena Corsello with the Carnegie-Mellon research team, circa 1948

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

Photo of Dr. Bettye Washington Greene, latex and polymers expert

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

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.

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

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.

Women in STEM continue to pave the way for world-changing innovation. Looking to the future, careers in technology enable us to transform, inspire and deliver through our work at Dow.

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