Launch: New Report on the Impact of COVID on Scotland’s STEM sectors

Equate Scotland has today released a report on the impact of COVID19 on women, students, and employers in STEM. The report is based on the experiences of over 150 women, students, and employers in response to our survey in September 2020.

Our findings and case studies illustrate the positive examples of how women and their employers have adapted in these unprecedented times. However, the core issues around women’s contribution and the balance between caring responsibilities and work have, in many respects, been magnified by the speed of change, and the intensity of the challenge to adapt quickly to new ways of working.

Equate Scotland intend to repeat the survey in March 2021 to assess the longer-term impact of Covid-19, including prolonged periods of disrupted work patterns, on-line learning, and the removal of the Job Retention Scheme. We will also begin to see the impact of the welcomed break-through in vaccine development, and its anticipated rollout.

Thank you to everyone who responded and took the time to provide case studies of their experience. Covid-19 has helped to burst many of the myths about flexible working, let’s now push on from here, working together, building back better with more flexible, diverse and inclusive workplaces.

An overview of our findings are below:

100 Women in STEM responded to our survey

  • 91% were working, 19% had experienced furlough and 1% had experienced redundancy.
  • 48% have child-care or other caring responsibilities, and 64% of those with caring responsibilities were also homeschooling during school closures. 
  • 69% were co-parenting and 12% were lone parents.
  • 65% said their working pattern had changed, 18% are working longer or later than usual to fit in homeschooling and child care responsibilities.
  • ‘Since lockdown I work more hours, job spread over the whole week, juggling between work, housework and childcare.’
  • ‘The pressure to work full hours was too high, when I had caring responsibilities due to nursery & childminder closure, I was regularly working until 2-3 am to catch up.’ 
  • 80% felt supported by their employer to work safely and effectively during Covid-19.
  • 75% said their employer had enabled them to work flexibly.
  • ‘I have felt totally supported by my employer. Even before the furlough scheme,they offered to support any employee with caring duties. They also provided many alternative mental-health and wellbeing support services for whoever needed it; and also ensured that nobody became isolated’

41 Women students in STEM responded to our survey

  • 98% would like to access online training to support their studies, specifically interview skills, online networking events, and help with CVs and applications. 
  • 76% did not not have an internship arranged, 14% did but it was postponed or canceled, and only 9% had an internship arranged that went ahead. 

18 Employers responded to our survey

  • 72% had accessed the furlough scheme
  • 72% had not made or were not planning to make redundancies
  • 78% were looking to recruit within the next year, with 50% looking to recruit in the next 3 months.
  • 83% said they would benefit from advice and guidance from Equate in relation to gender diversity initiatives and unconscious bias training

The report recommendations include:

  • Check-in regularly with staff who are home working
  • Support employees who are combining work and caring responsibilities
  • Proactively discuss reasonable adjustments in terms of targets.
  • Work with employees and trade unions to ensure that a sustainable flexible working policy is practiced, promoted, and accessible to all staff.
  • Ensure men are given time and flexibility to fulfill child and caring responsibilities with the same expectations and encouragement given to men as there is to women.

Read the report and our recommendations in full.