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Communicating as Women in STEM

Charlotte Brammer
Academic Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Megan Sawyer
, on
As a concept, Communicating as Women in STEM satisfies a deep need for discussing how women experience their surroundings in STEM fields.  This text is intended to help guide discussions around five main points—the “leaky pipeline” of women in STEM, negative stereotypes about women, woman-exclusive small talk, vocally-influenced power dynamics, and expectations for “appropriate” dress—with brief stories from women in STEM industries and a “threshing it out” section containing pointed questions for use by a facilitator.  This book is a mix of statistics, anecdotes, and recommendations, but also includes bookclub style questions.  However, it is appropriate for a single person to read through, maybe more so than a guided group, and the actual effect of the anecdotes meshed in with tables of data and text is a disjoint read.  These snippets of experience feel more like interruptions than serving as a microphone of support to the point of the stories.
Communicating has some key ideas that are worth exploring in the STEM community at large—namely, the five points the author identifies.  The statistics and data presented in the text make a compelling case for the need for change to support women in STEM and the experiences of women across STEM fields echoes this need for change.  The author has attempted to present ways for individuals to develop broad and thoughtful communication skills and interaction strategies with the blend of anecdote and study; however, this reader is left desiring direction for substantive change for the STEM community at large, much less concrete skill-building exercises. 


Megan Sawyer ([email protected]) is an associate professor of mathematics at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH.

1.Introduction: Understanding STEM cultures and communication expectations
2.Gender roles/differences and communication expectations and violations
a.Gender roles/differences
b.Verbal influencing strategies
3.Making culture and implicit rules visible
c.Body movement, placement, and image
d.The invisibles: time, smell, and touch
4.Communicator styles: male/female/androgynous
a.Bem’s sex role inventory and the value of androgynous communication style