Books With STEM Heroines That Aren’t by Ali Hazelwood

Books about Women in STEM. This picture features a woman in a white lab coat looking at something inside of a lab.

Ali Hazelwood’s Love on The Brain has been trending since it came out this August, followed by her bestseller The Love Hypothesis, which has been trending since it’s release in 2021 (and she even has a new book that’s planning to release next year). Readers seem to love Hazelwood’s books, not just for the romance, but for the protagonist, who is often a female character in the STEM field. If you’re not familiar with STEM, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and there certainly aren’t enough books with STEM heroines out there.

Books about women in the STEM field are few and far between–and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because women in STEM fields are more rare than men. The AAUW reports that women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce (at least as of 2020), so maybe there aren’t enough women familiar with STEM concepts to feel comfortable writing about a character in the field. Still, even with an increase in books about women in STEM being published, there still are very few novels out there that feature a woman in the STEM field.

So, after reading The Love Hypothesis (which I really enjoyed btw), I decided that I needed to find some other STEM-inspired novels with women in them. My goal was to find a few books that were off the beaten path (or off Booktok, so to speak), so you might not recognize many of these titles, but hopefully they’ll inspire you to pick up something new.

Lesson in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Okay, so I actually didn’t love this book, but lots of readers did!

Lessons in Chemistry follows the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman living in the early 1960s and working in the STEM field. She works at a research facility where she is the only woman in the lab. She falls in love with a well-known scientist (and fellow researcher), who subsequently dies a year later, leaving her pregnant and soon to be a single mother. When her boss finds out about her pregnancy, she is fired and left with nothing–that is, nothing except the house she and her partner shared. Determined to stay in science and make a name for herself, Zott raises her child while hosting a popular cooking TV show that teaches housewives how to make food using science.

While I didn’t love this book (you can read all about that by clicking here), I do think that it would be a good read for someone who enjoys books with STEM heroines, especially because this one doesn’t really feature a romance–it’s more about Zott’s story after she becomes a single mother.

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

I’ve actually never read anything by Sara Desai, but a library friend recommended this one to me and I’m excited to share it. There are so many romance-based books with STEM heroines, but I do think the premise here is cute and it definitely has promise for my ever-growing TBR list.

Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiance.

Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…

Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I don’t know that I’ve ever posted about this book specifically, but I know I’ve posted at least a few times about how much I love Helen Hoang. Hoang is one of my favorite romance novelists because she writes protagonists that are autistic. As an autistic woman, I feel like there just is never enough positive representation of women who are Autistic and I’m always happy to see something like The Kiss Quotient.

Stella, our main character, has Aspergers but she is also heavily involved in Mathematics. Her job consists of coming up with algorithms that predict a customer’s purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Bend Toward The Sun by Jen Devon

I actually had never heard of this novel until I found it on Novelist. If you aren’t familiar with Novelist, it’s this fancy website that can recommend books for you that are similar to a book you already enjoyed. The service isn’t free, but many local libraries carry it in house (which is where I used it this time).

While I haven’t read Bend Toward the Sun yet, it’s already on my TBR list to tackle, once I get back into my romance-book mood (I’m still stuck in my horror phase right now), and while it is an option for books with STEM heroines, it features a botanist, which is outside of the careers that we usually see in STEM-inspired novels.

The book is essentially about Rowan, a botanist with a PhD who is happy now, but has had a rough past. When an academic setback leads Rowan to a vineyard that has long been abandoned, she’s just excited to help restore the grapes to their former glory. Then, she meets Harrison Brady.

Harrison is an obstetrician who is struggling after losing a patient. Looking for a reprieve, he travels to his parent’s vineyard in Pennsylvania, hoping to recover. Instead, he meets Rowan.

This romance seems VERY steamy and it comes recommended on goodreads by Ali Hazelwood, so it definitely has found its way on my TBR list.

The Plus One by Sarah Archer

Here’s yet another romance that I’ve never heard of that I need to add to my TBR ASAP, and this one is about an engineer! I believe this is one of the first books with STEM heroines that I’ve seen that features engineering, so I am excited about that.

The Plus One is a hilarious and heartwarming debut novel about a brilliant but socially inept robotics engineer who builds her own wedding date to her sister’s wedding, and learns more about love than she ever expected.

Meet Kelly. Twenty-nine, valedictorian, and a brilliant robotics engineer to boot. While her professional life is on the rise, her personal life is struggling to get off the ground.

With her sister’s wedding looming and her attempts to find a date becoming increasingly cringe-worthy, Kelly does the only logical thing: she builds her own boyfriend, if only to get her mom off her back about being perpetually single. Kelly planned to pass off her robotic masterpiece, Ethan, as her other half just until the wedding. But then she can’t resist keeping him around even after the “I do’s.”

Ethan is just too perfect–gorgeous, attentive, smart (he does have Google for a brain), all topped off by a mechanical heart endlessly devoted to her. When Kelly is with him, she becomes a more confident, spontaneous version of herself. Plus, for the first time, her mother is actually proud of her.

But as the struggle to keep Ethan’s true identity a secret threatens to detonate the career Kelly has worked so hard for, she knows she has to kiss her toy boy goodbye.

There’s just one problem: she’s falling for him.

The Sizzle Paradox by Lily Menon

And last, but not least, is The Sizzle Paradox, which comes recommended for readers who loved the Kiss Quotient–so I’m hoping this one might be a good one to add to my TBR, as well, for the winter.

Lyric Bishop feels like a fraud—she’s studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners and what makes for a successful long-term relationship, only she can’t seem to figure it out in her own dating life. The science is sound, but how can she give her expert opinion with no real-world experience? In order to complete her doctoral thesis, she must crack the Sizzle Paradox—it seems the more sexually attractive she finds a guy, the less likely it is to come with an emotional connection; but why?—and to do that she must get the help she desperately needs.

Kian Montgomery, her best friend, roommate, and fellow grad student, has no trouble bringing both romance and sizzle to his own relationships. When he offers to tutor Lyric on dating tactics to find a good match, she’s certain it will solve her problems, and in exchange she agrees to set long-term-commitment-averse Kian up with someone different to give his romantic life a much-needed shakeup.

But once the two progress with their “tutoring sessions,” they start to feel less like the academic exercise they were supposed to be as real feelings develop. Which is a problem, because Lyric and Kian are best friends and absolutely, irrefutably nothing else…. Right?

Basically, the moral of the story here is that we need more non-romance related books with STEM heroines! I’d love to see more options out there, but in the meantime here are a few reads to get you started.

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