Women left the workforce in waves during the pandemic—most due to lack of childcare. Now, many are looking to return, and they are eyeing one area in particular: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

This is according to a new MetLife survey, which was conducted in September 2021 and consists of a representative sample of 2,000 interviews with people in the U.S. workforce, ages 18 to 65. The results show that although nearly half of women said the pandemic has negatively impacted their careers, almost two in three who left the workforce during this period say they are ready to return—and eight in 10 of those are considering careers in STEM.

The MetLife survey shows women interested in STEM identify several factors that would encourage them to pursue a career in those fields:

  • More diversity, equity, and inclusion in the leadership pipeline (38%).
  • Benefits that better fit their needs (33%).
  • More flexibility in work arrangements (31%).
  • Dedicated trainings that help their career progression (30%).
  • Paid internships or apprenticeships (29%).
  • Employee resource groups (28%).

This could come at exactly the right time. Industries across the globe are facing worker shortages and we need people to step up to help fill roles that were left vacant as a result of the pandemic. Further, we need people to fill new roles that are likely going to come as a result of growth in the future. The U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) suggests there will be a 10.5% employment expansion in STEM occupations between 2020 and 2030, as we need new positions to be filled.

Here are my questions for those of us already in the industry: What are we doing to foster and cultivate this interest in STEM? How are we bringing women alongside of us to help them learn about the industry? We need to applaud the efforts of women in tech and encourage even more to be inspired, recognizing it’s not easy to work a doublelife (mother and data leader).

Here at Connected World, we recognize the Women in Technology who are leading the way to create a more equitable workplace. Now, more than ever, we need to recognize the women who are moving up the ranks and serving as an influential force in technology to help pave the way for those who might want to come next.

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