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How well are women supported after landing technical positions?

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Valued At Work: A Blueprint for Inclusion, Retention of Women in STEM

How well are women supported after landing technical positions?

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2023 - 11:00

(Lauren Neal: New York) -- Programs that encourage female students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects, and hiring initiatives that compel companies to boost their women in the workforce are all well and good. But until businesses do a better job of addressing what happens to women after they land STEM positions, nothing will really change, posits Lauren Neal, a female engineer turned project manager who has worked in the energy sector for 18 years.

“You can have the most confident and competent women coming into these organizations, but if they are not included and they are not feeling valued, they are either going to walk right out that door or, for whatever reason, if they need to stay, they are going to be soul-destroyed,” Neal said in a recent interview.

In her timely new book Valued at Work: Shining a Light on Bias to Engage, Enable, and Retain Women in STEM (Practical Inspiration Publishing, 2023), Neal draws from her own experiences, compelling research, and numerous real-world examples to provide what she calls tried-and-tested approaches to help male-dominated organizations create and maintain more inclusive workplace cultures.

And Neal uses a unique approach to get her message across: The book is structured as a conversation between two male managers genuinely trying to improve the retention of women in their respective organizations. The reader gets to be a “fly on the wall” as these two men discuss the problems that women face within the patriarchal system—using concrete examples—and actively try to understand the challenges and find ways to course-correct the company’s inclusion efforts.

They get it right, and they get it wrong.

“This fictional approach to a real business problem allows readers to empathize with these male organizational leaders in their own struggles, as well as with the women in theirs, with less judgment than is typical when discussing this topic,” says Neal.

Valued at Work includes “top tips” for both organizations and women in STEM to equip all readers with strategies for driving real change.

About the author

Lauren Neal is a champion of gender equity and career progression within STEM. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Neal was named one of the U.K.’s top female computing students at age 18. She gained a master’s degree in electronic and electrical engineering, and since 2005 has worked with men and women offshore, onshore, and onsite on multimillion-dollar projects across the U.K., Angola, Trinidad, Azerbaijan, and Indonesia.

Chartered through the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Association of Project Management (APM), she is a certified IC Agile team facilitator and coach focused on improving team dynamics for optimal project delivery.

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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.