Viet Nam: Nguyen Thi Hoe

Scientific research makes life better and the people happier."

— Nguyen Thi Hoe

Nguyen Thi Hoe, a Profesor-Doctor and the General Director of Kova Traffic Paint Company, was born in 1946 to a poor family. She had to overcome many obstacles to become successful in science and business, which are considered men’s fields. Her subjects for scientific research are practical and make a high economic and social contribution without pollution.

According to Nguyen Thi Hoe, an aspiring woman scientist can overcome obstacles to her advancement with strong determination and a profound love for science. "I was told, 'Scientific research is not for women, especially for a 20-year-old with three children'. Instead of buckling under their prejudice, I became determined to prove them wrong." It was wartime and the university was in an evacuated area with no equipment or materials. She was always hungry because she had to share the little food she had with her children. To earn money for her studies, she raised pigs. Her hard work paid off when she graduated with high marks and was chosen to be a lecturer at the Hanoi Polytechnic University (HPU). She studied waterproofing materials, a practical choice in Vietnam, a tropical country with lots of rain and humidity that can wreak havoc on buildings, and she developed a substance that resulted in a tenfold increase in water resistance. Nguyen Thi Hoe also figured out how to blend it into house paint. By 1993, at the age of 46, Hoe had authored 20 scientific research projects on the study of color and highly ground materials. Named director of research at Ho Chi Minh Polytechnic University, she developed a manufacturing process that could turn cheap local substances into usable materials that retailed at half the price of imported materials. She received the Kovalevskaja Award for "women with scientific research projects that serve their country’s life and society" from an NGO and the San Francisco State University. She organized the Kova Paint Company that produces quality but inexpensive and non-polluting products. To help young women with a passion for science pursue their dream, Nguyen Thi Hoe established the Kova Awards in 2002, which provides scholarships to women who have achieved excellence in science and community activities.

Kova Traffic Paint Company