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Chemical Processing Book Club: Valued at Work

Dec. 13, 2023
Lauren Neal shares how women navigating the traditionally male-dominated technical sector often feel undervalued, leading to a missed opportunity to achieve their full potential.

What are you reading? 

Valued at Work – Shining a light on Bias to Engage, Enable and Retain Women in STEM by Lauren Neal

How much did you know about this book before picking it up?

Very little

What surprised you the most about the book? 

How women are often treated in STEM field roles, many of whom feel invisible, frustrated and undervalued. And, the higher up the ranks, the fewer females you’ll find in those positions. This book explains why, using the example of two male leaders intent on making changes to help empower and retain women in their organizations. 

How thought-provoking did you find the book? 

The book takes a deeper look into why women are often not given a fair shake in STEM positions, pointing to a number of real-life scenarios. The author helps engage readers with a conversational approach to help them understand the challenges and culture that lead to women feeling frustrated. The book takes the point of view of two male leaders and their varying approaches to attrition, particularly among female workers. The discussions between the two men, and their actions, reveal a lot about why women often leave before reaching their full potential.

Did the book change your opinion about anything, or did you learn something new from it? If so, what? 

I learned that organizations consistently underestimate the potential of their female employees – despite women on average receiving higher performance ratings compared to their male counterparts — and that contributes to almost half the gender promotion gap. 

Lauren Neal offers great insight on how to navigate gender inequalities and biases within the workforce. While the task can seem daunting, she lays it out in a very clear way for anyone in a management position to understand. She shows a clear link between proper people skills, allyship, ethical leadership, trust, acknowledging technical skills and performance, feedback and respect. It’s also clear that higher-ups and their lack of buy-in play a role in the attrition of female leaders. Great leadership starts with many of the above traits and is vital in helping retain skilled workers – whether they are male or female. 

Neal talks about the importance of psychological safety, emotional intelligence, and being authentic to help create a more inclusive culture where all workers feel valued. 
Regardless of gender, everyone should read this for tips on how to navigate a diverse workforce with many different personalities while developing a positive, inclusive workplace.

Rate this book on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

10 out of 10

Why did you give the book the rating you did?

I highly recommend it for employers and employees as it provides a very accessible approach to navigating the challenges of a diverse workforce, retaining quality staff, and making sure women in STEM are valued at work. It is also a must-read for any DEI initiatives. 

About the Author

Amanda Joshi | Managing Editor

Amanda Joshi has more than 18 years of experience in business-to-business publishing for both print and digital content. Before joining Chemical Processing, she worked with and Electrical Contracting Products. She’s a versatile, award-winning editor with experience in writing and editing technical content, executing marketing strategy, developing new products, attending industry events and developing customer relationships. 

Amanda graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2001 with a B.A. in English and has been an English teacher. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and daughter, and their mini Aussiedoodle, Riley. In her rare spare time, she enjoys reading, tackling DIY projects, and horseback riding.

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