A campaign for more women of colour in the beauty industry
While Naomi Campbell and Iman battle to have more models of colour on the runway during major fashion shows there is a campaign to get more women of colour in the beauty industry. Cosmetic Chemistry Connections is a new initiative launched on October 30, set up to encourage young women from disadvantaged backgrounds to study chemistry at University.
Taking place at Christ the King College in London, a pilot where 25 students worked in a lab for one day to create their own beauty product and learn all about the chemistry processes involved. They worked on the life cycle of their products from lab to shelf and learn about the sustainability issues involved with the assistance and expertise of cosmetic chemists, contract manufacturers, scientists and marketers who will be involved in the programme.
We live in a beauty obsessed world which is ruled by advances in beauty products and treatments where not a week goes by without the launch of a new anti-ageing cream or Botox treatment. Unfortunately this is not reflected in the classroom where girls trail behind boys in STEM (science, technology, engineering) subjects.
Cosmetic Chemistry Connections is the brainchild of Madeka Panchoo, Managing Director of 33 Boroughs Consultancy Ltd which specialises in corporate responsibility programmes. Working with Generating Genius, a charity, that works with high achieving students from disadvantaged communities, the programme aims to encourage girls aged 16+ from the BME (black and minority ethnic) community to pursue a career in chemistry. It is supported by brands such as L’Oreal, Fashion Fair Cosmetics and Yves Rocher.
Generating Genius was founded by Dr Tony Sewell, an education commentator and former teacher who has been widely published. “Chemistry is everywhere,” says Dr Sewell. “It certainly dominates the cosmetic industry where chemical products are produced and consumed in what is a billion pound industry. Students are often unaware just how chemistry is used in creating even the most basic of products. We will be attracting technical, branding and retail aspects of the cosmetic industry to meet its future talent.”
“I am really excited to be working on such a positive project,” says Madeka Panchoo. “I feel very passionate about the aims of Cosmetic Chemistry Connections and its role in empowering young women and making them more confident about their skills in a science subject.” Research by the Royal Society of Chemistry has found that despite having a taste for science, a low proportion of girls go on to study subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry at degree level. This is worrying for the nation because these subjects are fundamental to the growth of the country and the state of the economy.
Drawing on the knowledge that girls react more positively to science subjects when they are presented in a user friendly way, Cosmetic Chemistry Connections aims to show the students the connections between beauty and science, how chemistry impacts their everyday life and the options opened up to them with a chemistry degree.
Subject to funding, the main programme will start in Spring 2014 with workshops in schools targeted at girls in key stage 2 and right through to age 18.