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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

The Pandemic, Women and STEM

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There is no doubt that the impacts of COVID-19 and its economic fallout has had an astounding impact on women. According to a new MetLife survey, 58% of women say that the pandemic has already had a negative impact on their career, and 56% fear it will impact their career in the future.

These impacts have prompted many women to consider making a career change, even in this challenging environment. According to MetLife’s survey, 1 in 4 women say they are considering a career change — and 4 in 10 women are looking to transition to the historically male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field.

(Related: Fix the ‘Broken Rung’ on the Management Track Ladder: Conference Speakers)

Unfortunately, MetLife’s data also shows that only 27% of respondents — both men and women — believe that the STEM industry is supportive of women and their career development — demonstrating a clear area of improvement for STEM employers.

Here’s a few ways your employer clients can encourage women to pursue careers in STEM, as well as retain female talent in the sector:

1. Understand barriers to entry.

While it’s clear that women are interested in pursuing STEM jobs, they are also facing significant barriers to making it a reality. In fact, MetLife’s new survey found that 44% of women credited uncertainty as the biggest barrier to pursuing a career in STEM, and almost 25% cited a lack of skills or a lack of mentorship as the biggest barrier.

In order to alleviate these barriers, employers can alter their recruitment strategies to reach more women early in their careers by supporting and tapping into relevant student or young professional organizations in the field, which provide training, mentorship and networking opportunities.

2. Alter existing programs.

One way to ease uncertainty is by providing avenues for women to learn and train for the field. In fact, women who have lost their jobs during the pandemic say online webinars and returnships (internships for adults re-entering the workforce) would encourage them to pursue a career in STEM.

MetLife, for example, has experienced success through tech-focused internship programs like MetLife Technical University and returnship programs like Act2 — which are designed to better support and encourage women to take steps toward their future careers.

3. Offer flexible benefits.

The pandemic has shifted priorities for many employees — even more so for women, as a result of burnout and dual demands of parenting and working from home — and it is no secret that this has been challenging to manage.

Employers can meet these needs of women in STEM by offering their employees non-traditional benefits such as flexible schedules, paid time off, parental leave. It is also important for employers to remain flexible and reconsider new offerings as needs continue to change.

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Pen (Image: iStock) Maureen McQueen is senior vice president of global services and operations at MetLife.


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