RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Millions of women are considering making a career change as the pandemic drags on, citing career challenges – and of those thinking about making a switch some 40% are considering going into STEM fields.

So say nearly 10,000 women responding to a survey from MetLife.

MetLife notes that “58 percent say COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their careers. Despite this disruption – or perhaps because of it – roughly 1 in 4 women have been considering a career change since the pandemic hit. Many women are looking at STEM fields, specifically, with 2 in 5 noting that they are interested in pursuing a career in STEM, an industry forecasted to grow at a greater rate than non-STEM industries in the years ahead.”

STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math.

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“We have an opportunity to turn this moment of crisis into a moment of opportunity that accelerates the number of women entering STEM professions,” said Susan Podlogar, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at MetLif, about the survey. “The key is to remove roadblocks so that top talent can enter, stay and flourish in STEM careers.”

However, many acknowledge STEM won’t be easy.

  • Only one quarter of women feel that STEM professions are supportive of women and their career advancement, compared to nearly twice as many who said the education industry was supportive.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of women credit uncertainty as the biggest barrier to pursuing a career in STEM.
  • Almost 25 percent of women said they were deterred by lack of skills or lack of mentorship.

But there is a bright spot.

Woemn noted “several employer-offered programs that would encourage women to pursue careers in STEM, with more than one-third citing “returnship” programs – which help experienced professionals who left the workforce for an extended period of time re-launch their careers – and nearly 40 percent pointing to digital accelerator programs.”

Read more about the survey online.