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Lessons Learned: Stories from Women Leaders in STEM

Deborah M. Shlian, MD., MBA.

2023 FAPA Award Winner

"Lessons Learned brings us the stories of thirty-one brilliant women in STEM who overcame the odds to push science forward while paving the way for the women yet to come. Uplifting, informative, and important."

-Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry

Women in this country have made great strides in terms of education. In fact, their educational attainment has outpaced men's. However, the story is different when it comes to STEM.

While women make up 48% of the workforce, when it comes to the so-called STEM fields, women hold only about 29% of positions in these specialties, with the majority in the biological and life sciences.

There is no evidence that girls and women are not interested in STEM fields. However, research does suggest that cultural attitudes, including implicit and explicit biases, discourage women from entering computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics in particular.

One of the ways to increase that participation is to have role models who will inspire young women to consider STEM careers.

Lessons Learned: Stories From Women Leaders in STEM, addresses the lack of women in STEM careers through the first-person accounts of notable women who have excelled in a range of STEM-related leadership roles.

"Role models matter," says Sheryl Sandberg, founder of and former COO of Meta (Facebook). "In Lessons Learned, Deborah Shlian introduces us to more than 30 extraordinary women who've pushed past gender bias to expand perceptions of what it means to lead in STEM. This book will inspire so many other women and girls to reach for their goals."

The women in this book are leaders in many different STEM disciplines and in many different sectors, including academia, industry, and government institutions like the FDA and NIH. They are intentionally a diverse group not only by areas of STEM, but also by age (some are at or near the end of their careers, some are mid-career, and some are just beginning), by geography (from East, to Midwest, to West), and by ethnicity (Native American, Latina, Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Caucasian). Each contributor has shared her personal career journey - including the barriers and challenges faced along the way.

The hope is that young readers (especially girls) will find these stories so inspiring that they will consider a STEM career, and those already enrolled in STEM PhD programs will aim to become leaders within their field.

The book's contributors represent a who's who of women in STEM:

  • Evangelyn C. Alocilja, PhD

  • Cecilia Aragon, PhD

  • Gilda A. Barabino, PhD

  • Lisa D. Chong, PhD

  • Daphney R. Chery, PhD

  • Rita R. Colwell, PhD, DSc

  • The Honorable France A. Cordova, PhD

  • Catie Cuan, PhD candidate

  • Margaret Dayhoff-Brannigan, PhD

  • Claire M. Fraser, PhD

  • Olivia L. George, PhD

  • Korie Grayson, PhD

  • Malika Grayson, PhD

  • Judith Greenberg, PhD

  • Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD

  • Aishwarya Iyer, MD/PhD student/candidate

  • Maria Klawe, PhD

  • Kristin E. Lauter, PhD

  • Cathleen (Cat) Lutz, PhD

  • Marcia McNutt, PhD

  • Estelle Russek-Cohen, PhD

  • Ida Sim, MD, PhD

  • Barbara Simons, PhD

  • Tatiana Toro, PhD

  • Lydia Villa-Komaroff, PhD

  • Valda Vinson, PhD

  • Maggie Werner-Washburne, PhD

  • Telle Whitney, PhD

  • Amie Wilkinson, PhD

  • Rachel Willand-Charnley, PhD

  • Jiwon Yang, PhD, MBA

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