Today the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and Science and Technology Australia released the Rapid Research Information Forum’s report on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2/Covid19 pandemic on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, asked the RRIF:
What impact is the COVID-19 pandemic having on women in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workforce?
Data shows women in STEM are more likely than their male counterparts to have lost their jobs, or have reduced working hours or career opportunities as a result of the pandemic. Jobs are down 6.3% for women, but only 4.8% for men.
Speaking on the ABC, lead author Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE FRSN, Dean of Science at UNSW, said “It’s true that women in stem tend to be in more junior levels. They’re also more likely to be part-time and in casual roles. Those are the positions that are more vulnerable and more likely to be cut.”
Implications outlined include:
“Given the compounding effect of career breaks and gender-based discrimination on career progression, it is reasonable to assume the pandemic is likely to have more long-term negative implications for women in STEM than men.
“The 2019 Women in STEM Decadal Plan outlines a path to achieve gender equity by 2030, including detailed strategic recommendations. While the pandemic may present an additional obstacle, its recommendations remain highly relevant.
“Mounting evidence demonstrates the benefits of diverse research workforces and the risks of homogeneous research workforces – including examples of technology & treatments designed for male users or patients that do not work as well for women.
“Current and future women in STEM are particularly at risk if important advances of recent years wind back. This potential danger will grow if STEM employers do not closely monitor and mitigate the gender impact of their decisions.”
The RRIF is chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO FAA FTSE. The RRIF report contains data on job losses, care responsibilities and more.
Read and download here: Impact on Women in STEM.
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