60% of female STEM students have prospects halted by pandemic
60% of female STEM students have had their future career prospects affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a report finds.
A whitepaper published by STEM Women has found that 60% of female STEM students have had their future career prospects affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 44% of female STEM students saying they have had career opportunities completely cancelled due to the pandemic.
However, despite the increase in competition in the jobs market following COVID-19, the report found that female STEM students are more likely to consider the gender balance of a company when applying for roles in 2020, than in 2019. Respondents also valued company diversity initiatives more than respondents in 2019. They demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the subject and highlighted that they would seek out companies that are committed to change rather than just listing values on their website to ‘tick a box.’
Attitudes towards the gender pay gap saw a huge shift between 2019 and 2020. In 2020, there was a 30% drop in the number of female STEM students who said they would read the gender pay gap of a company when job hunting. This could be explained by the Government pausing gender pay gap reporting for 2019/2020, resulting in less publicity. Many respondents in 2020 highlighted that they were unaware that this information was freely available.
One of the key themes that emerged in the report was a growing feeling of uncertainly and lack of confidence in the jobs market because of the pandemic. Remote working environments and a lack of social interaction are likely to have caused students to feel anxious. 28% of respondents said that they would be either unhappy or extremely unhappy to start a new role working remotely or from home.
The importance of mentoring schemes was also prevalent with female STEM students, 78% said they would be more likely to apply for a role if there was a mentoring scheme in 2020. This increased by 10% from 2019. It’s understandable that students are seeking support from a mentor who can guide them through the early stages of their career now more than ever before.
Sophie Chadwick, Events Manager at STEM Women, explains…
“In the wake of COVID-19 and the negative impact it has had on the jobs market, it has never been more important for companies to maintain their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our whitepaper has revealed that who are entering industries with gender imbalances will favour employers with effective diversity initiatives and equal pay policies, despite the competitive market.”
Entitled ‘Understanding the Gender Imbalance in STEM’, the report uses survey data collected in 2019 and 2020 from a total of 265 female STEM students and recent graduates studying at universities across the UK and Ireland.
- 60% of female STEM students have had their future career prospects affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 44% of female STEM students said they have had career opportunities completely cancelled due to the pandemic.
- In 2019, 74% of female students feel that diversity initiatives are either extremely or very important. In 2020, 83% said that diversity initiatives are either extremely or very important.
- In 2019, 54% of female STEM students said that the gender balance of a company would be an influencing factor when deciding on job offers. In 2020, 58% said that the gender balance of a company would be an influencing factor.
- In 2019, 65% of female STEM students saying they would expect to read the gender pay gap before accepting a job. In 2020, this dropped by 30% to just 35% saying they expect to read it.
- In 2019, 68% of female STEM students said they would be more likely to apply for a role that had a mentoring scheme, in 2020 this creased by 10% to 78%.
The Whitepaper also explores attitudes towards whether imposter syndrome is still a taboo subject for young women and how women believe gender balances will shift in the future.