Summary of The Only Woman in the Room

Why Science Is Still a Boys' Club

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The Only Woman in the Room book summary
How to encourage women to enter STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, math – and stay.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Despite being one of the first two women to graduate with a BS in physics from Yale, Eileen Pollack became a writer instead of pursuing a career in physics. As a child, she wanted to learn math and science, but teachers discouraged her because of her gender. Pollack examines her education as a case history to understand why women abandon science careers. Weaving her experiences and interviews with women in science, Pollack discusses why women leave science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and explores how to prevent their exodus. getAbstract recommends Pollack’s insights to STEM teachers, professors, HR executives and practitioners, and women aspiring to study and work in the hard sciences.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What factors discourage women from entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions;
  • How Eileen Pollack’s personal journey exemplifies this dilemma; and
  • How to bring more women into STEM careers.


Growing Up
Eileen Pollack wasn’t allowed to join her rural high school’s advanced curriculum in physics and math because, as her principal told her, “Girls never go on in science and math.” She grew up in Liberty, New York, a working-class resort area where her grandparents owned a hotel...
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About the Author

University of Michigan creative writing professor Eileen Pollack is the author of the novels Breaking and Entering (a New York Times Editor’s Choice book) and Paradise, New York, as well as two collections of short fiction, a book of nonfiction and two creative-nonfiction textbooks.

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