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New study reveals how pandemic may impact women pursuing STEM fields

Posted at 3:41 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 16:41:27-04

BRAZOS COUNTY — We all know the pandemic has dramatically impacted education and the way we learn.

But a new study reveals that it may have some lingering effects on women pursuing careers in the STEM field.

Finding a Work, life, school balance has been a tough act.

"The women who want to be in STEM, they work hard, they work really, really hard. They know they are going into a tough field, but this is a lot," Luciana Barroso, associate professor, Civil, and Engineering Department, Texas A&M said.

And the pandemic made it that much harder.

Graduate Student, Macie Baucum knows first-hand.

"It's very isolating. You know it's just you and your computer screen whereas when we were in person, there are colleagues around the office or in the classroom where we can have that social interaction," Macie Baucum, Macie Baucum, graduate assistant, Texas A&M University, Aggie STEM camp director said.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine published a study called, "Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.' The report says the isolation, plus the amount of stress on mental health, lack of a work-life balance due to the pandemic among other things may interfere with women and their STEM studies.

The study says this will accentuate the gender gap in an already male-dominated industry.

"Women generally have that one foot in, one foot out and I only say that because sometimes we are unsure if Engineering is going to be the route for us," Shawna Fletcher, Director of Women and Engineering program, Texas A&M said.

Professors at A&M have worked hard to make sure their female students have the support they need.

"I felt it was necessary for me to come on every Monday evening and talk to them and say, 'You're doing ok. Don't worry and if you need to hand in something late, we can make an exception,'"Mary Margaret Capraro, professor of mathematics profession said.

"If you struggled this past year, please don't take that by any chance to mean that you can't do it. Whatever it might be. This is not representative of what anybody's career is," Barroso said.

Texas A&M's College of Engineering has the largest incoming class of women in the country.