At Rosoka, we have been fortunate to not only move to remote work during the pandemic with comparable productivity, but also to have grown in the number of employees, including the number of women, within the company. The ease of working at home for a tech company has been a successful transition as a whole at Rosoka, with all of us running our products without issue on standard work-issued laptops. However, for the US workforce in general, the transition has not all been this smooth. With March being Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at how women in the workforce, and STEM careers and education in general, have taken a hit due to COVID-19.
According to the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), about 26% of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs were occupied by women in 2018 nationally. Of that percentage, about half were in the Computers and Mathematics sector. This specific section has seen a decrease of women entering these jobs. Even though there’s still much room for women to grow in these fields, it’s a long way from where we were only a century ago.
Women in the 19th and early 20th centuries mainly worked in the home, without the opportunity for education. It wasn’t until about the 1970s that about half the single women in the US and 40% of married women were working outside the home due to increased high school education and reduced stigma around working while married, according to an essay published by Brookings.
However, many women in the workforce have been impacted negatively from the rise of telework during the COVID-19 quarantine in more ways than one. According to an article by American Progress, many women in the childcare industry have lost their jobs since childcare facilities have been impacted by the virus. Additionally, a record number of women have left the workforce overall. Since many women are still doing a majority of household chores and parenting even a century later, combining both career and home in a 24/7 cycle with generally lower pay than men in the household leaves many women feeling like there is no other path than to quit their jobs.
With many women taking this route by force or by choice, this may very well impact the already low numbers of women in STEM careers and education in the next few years, as it is difficult to re-enter the workforce once one has left. The COVID-19 pandemic has for many people in teleworking positions created more time for family with less time spent commuting, but has also impacted progress of women that took so long to build.