19 Apr 2021

Meet Bettye Washington Greene

Childhood & Education

Meet Bettye Washington Greene | Stemettes Zine

Bettye Washington was born in Texas. She attended segregated public schools throughout her education and graduated around 1952. After this, she did a PhD in physical chemistry whilst also teaching chemistry too!


After graduating, Bettye joined the Dow Chemical Research Laboratory in Michigan. In fact, she spent most of her scientific career here. She was the first African-American woman to join the company as a professional! At Dow, she researched colloid and latex chemistry. Her work was good and in 1970, she was promoted to senior research chemist! In 1973, she joined the Designed Polymers Research Division to improve latex. She was promoted to the position of senior research specialist here too.

Meet Bettye Washington Greene - in the lab | Stemettes Zine

During her time at Dow, she patented various modifications of latex. These included:

  • 1985 – Stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups.
  • 1986 – Composite sheet prepared with stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups.
  • 1990 – Latex-based adhesive prepared by emulsion polymerisation.

After decades of contribution to the science of polymers at Dow, she retired in 1990. She later passed away on June 16 1995.

Dr Greene dedicated her entire career to scientific research and in doing so, she paved the way for women of colour in the science fields. She will always remain a pioneer of science and polymers.


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