The "silent killers" of a STEM-professional woman’s career

Ruel, Stefanie (2018). The "silent killers" of a STEM-professional woman’s career. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 37(7) pp. 728–748.



The purpose of this paper was to provide a plausible answer to how there are so few science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professional women managers in the Canadian space industry.
The author showcased one such individual and her experiences of the exclusionary order in this industry, by focusing on her discourses and those of her former supervisor. The author applied the critical sensemaking (CSM) framework to unstructured interview data and to various collected written documentation. To guide the author’s application of this CSM framework, the author asked and answered the following questions: what is the range of identity anchor points associated with, and available to, a STEM-professional woman within the Canadian space industry? What is the relationship between these anchor points and organizational rules and social values? And, how do these anchor points and their relationship with rules and social values influence the exclusion of STEM-professional women from management positions within this industry?
The author surfaced a STEM-professional woman’s range of ephemeral identities, captured within her range of attributed anchor points. The author also revealed some of the rules and social values of the organizational context she worked in. The author then analyzed the how of her exclusionary social order, by studying the relationship between these anchor points and these rules and social values.
Social implications
In addition to addressing the lack of STEM-professional women in management and to filling a gap in the literature, this study made a contribution to our understanding of social-identities, represented by anchor points, and to their discursive reproduction within organizational contexts. The author also suggested micro-political resistances to undo this social order for one particular individual.
This study’s value can be measured by its contribution to the postpositivist cisgender and diversity literature focused on intersectionality scholarship, specifically in the area of identity anchor points and their (re)creation within social interactions.

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