Insights from new MetLife survey help top tech leaders develop solutions to support women in STEM at Triangle Tech X Conference

The economic fallout of COVID-19 has had a severe impact on women in the workplace. A new survey from MetLife examining the barriers women are facing amid the pandemic found that 58 percent say COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their careers. Despite this disruption – or perhaps because of it – roughly 1 in 4 women have been considering a career change since the pandemic hit. Many women are looking at STEM fields, specifically, with 2 in 5 noting that they are interested in pursuing a career in STEM, an industry forecasted to grow at a greater rate than non-STEM industries in the years ahead.1

“We have an opportunity to turn this moment of crisis into a moment of opportunity that accelerates the number of women entering STEM professions,” said Susan Podlogar, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at MetLife. “The key is to remove roadblocks so that top talent can enter, stay and flourish in STEM careers.”

While increased interest in STEM is promising, there are still barriers to overcome. Among the survey respondents:

  • Only one quarter of women feel that STEM professions are supportive of women and their career advancement, compared to nearly twice as many who said the education industry was supportive.
  • Nearly half (44 percent) of women credit uncertainty as the biggest barrier to pursuing a career in STEM.
  • Almost 25 percent of women said they were deterred by lack of skills or lack of mentorship.

However, the survey also discovered several employer-offered programs that would encourage women to pursue careers in STEM, with more than one-third citing “returnship” programs – which help experienced professionals who left the workforce for an extended period of time re-launch their careers – and nearly 40 percent pointing to digital accelerator programs.

Using these insights to inform action, MetLife is virtually bringing together top industry leaders from Microsoft, Netflix, Dell, Cisco, IBM and more from October 28-30 at the Triangle Tech X Conference to identify actionable ways to help break down these barriers and future-proof roles for women in today’s workforce – and particularly, in STEM.

“By understanding the obstacles women face, companies can develop solutions to make STEM a more attainable career choice,” said Bill Pappas, executive vice president and head of Global Technology and Operations at MetLife. “That’s the goal of the conference – to help companies embrace an intentional approach to recruiting, developing and retaining strong female talent in STEM.”

Research Methodology

The survey was conducted online between October 9 - October 15, 2020. It was fielded to 15,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 65 and completed by just under 10,000 (9,755). The margin of error was +/-5%.

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the world’s leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 markets globally and holds leading positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit