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November 29, 2012 / NextStepU

Book Review – “Unlocking Your Brilliance”: Women in STEM Careers

The gender divide
As the founder and president of PK Electrical, an electrical engineering firm, Karen Purcell always wondered why there seemed to be such a gender divide among men and women in the fields of math and science. “What characterizes a career in math or science that keeps them male-dominated?” she asks. “There is no legitimate excuse for anyone not being encouraged to follow his or her passions because of gender.”

The main idea
It was because of this idea that Purcell was inspired to write her book, “Unlocking Your Brilliance,” which focuses on helping women thrive in the generally male-dominated STEM careers of science, technology, engineering and math. She says that much of the blame for the lack of female presence in these areas comes from gender stereotypes that have been instilled into girls’ minds at a young age. Purcell insists that because of this, “it is important to confront gender stereotypes head-on, and long before young people are faced with declaring their majors at the college level.” In her book, Purcell highlights the common hurdles that women typically face when in STEM careers and offers strategies to overcome them.

The message
Purcell stresses that the lack of exposure most women get in math and science often results in a lack of confidence in their abilities and results in avoiding related programs. Purcell hopes to reverse this trend through her advice and stresses that not only will women benefit from expanding into math and science, but that the whole country will also be better off with more advancement in these fields.

The book is meant to be both an encouraging source for women and a source for good career advice. Each of the chapters are divided into different sections that stress certain “hurdles” to get over, “strategies to make it through” and a conclusion. I found it particularly beneficial for the chapters to be divided in this way because she made it clear what particular “hurdles” are the most important and her inclusion of several strategies allowed for many solutions; not just a complaint about the problem.

Who should read it?
Clearly this book has a particular audience in mind, so I would recommend it to young women who are considering a career in the fields of math or science. Obviously this career path isn’t for everyone, but if you want to learn more about the STEM field and are looking to be inspired, this a great book for you!

-By Laura Sestito

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