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New eBooks Offer STEM Role Models for Girls, Young Women

By Helen Horwitz

Helping to narrow the gender gap between the numbers of men and women in engineering is the goal of a new eBook series from IEEE-USA. Except for the first volume, which is an overview of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) occupations, each book is a first-hand account of how a notable contemporary woman engineer built her career. Each author discusses the challenges and opportunities she dealt with both in obtaining her education and advancing professionally.

“IEEE-USA eBooks already offer a wide range of titles on developing and enhancing a technical career, but this new series on Women in Engineering goes several steps further,” says Gerard (Gus) Gaynor, Chair of both the IEEE-USA Communications Committee and IEEE-USA eBooks. “The authors in this new series provide important role models to whom talented girls and women can relate.”

Nita Patel, who wrote the first book in the series, and is also IEEE Women in Engineering International Chair, adds, “Role models whose stories can motivate and inspire the next generation of female engineers are a vital component in attracting and keeping girls interested in pursuing a STEM education and career.” She says, “The reasons more young girls are not taking up technological careers continue to be complex and varied–but other key themes appear to be public stereotypes and inherent biases.”

Patel’s book, Women in Engineering ” Book 1: Inspire and Close the Gender Gap, explores the reasons why women are so underrepresented in STEM careers”and recommends a variety of solutions, including providing strong female role models.

“The three women engineers whose stories we have published this year are a diverse cross-section of female technical professionals,” says Georgia C. Stelluto, IEEE-USA Publishing Manager, and Manager/Editor, IEEE-USA eBooks. “Each has a distinctive background but all three are passionate, committed professionals. From childhood, each also was interested in technology and found ways to satisfy her thirst for learning more,” she notes.

In addition to Patel, the three other authors whose books have been published so far in the series are: Maria Vlachopoulou, a data analyst/program manager at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Wash.; Sherry Gillespie, Ph.D., a Washington, D.C. technology management consultant, and former executive with IBM and Motorola; and Jacquelyn Nagel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of engineering at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.


Maria Vlachopoulou’s book, Women in Engineering ” Book 2: Passion, Perseverance and Making a Difference, discusses the many obstacles she had to overcome to pursue a technological career: limited pre-university opportunities to learn about technology in her hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece; learning to use a personal computer for the first time as a university freshman; undergraduate studies in her second language, English; and changing both career and engineering directions while in graduate school.  Vlachopoulou was honored as the 2013 IEEE/IEEE-USA New Face of Engineering for her contributions to Smart Grid research, while employed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. She has two M.S. degrees: in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and in Industrial Engineering, from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

In her book, Women in Engineering ” Book 3: Passions Can Sustain You: A Personal Career History, Sherry Gillespie shares her career journey from stints as a high school physics teacher through extraordinary opportunities leading cross-organizational and international technology programs and serving for five years on the board of an international consortium. She was also an IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow and served in the office of Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). Gillespie has a Ph.D. in solid state physics from Temple University, an M.S. in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in physics from Vassar College.

Jacquelyn Nagel’s book, Women in Engineering ” Book 4: Follow Your Curiosities: Finding Success through Learning, recounts the financial challenges of obtaining her education, cooperative education experiences that introduced her to new engineering disciplines, and developing the right mindset to successfully complete graduate school. Nagel was recognized as the 2012 IEEE/IEEE-USA New Face of Engineering for her pioneering research in bio-inspired sensors and processes. She has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University, and both an M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri ” Rolla.)

Further information about all four IEEE-USA eBooks in the Women in Engineering series is available at The member price for each book is $7.99; non-IEEE members can purchase them for $9.99.

The next four books in the IEEE-USA eBook series are scheduled for publication throughout 2015.

Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991-2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.


Helen Horwitz

Helen Horwitz was an award-winning freelance writer in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.

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