Implication of School Format on Women in STEM

Women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (examples of each of STEM include Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson, Ellen Ochoa, and Irmgard Flugge-Lotz ( (Shetterly, 2016), (Waisman & Tietjen, 2008))) have made and continue to make important contributions to their fields. The ability of women to contribute to their fields without feeling that they have to give up on having a family relies on the presence of a support system or village typically made up of family, friends, childcare, and schools. The coronavirus pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of these support systems, particularly schools, in enabling women the time and resources to contribute in STEM fields. Many K-12 schools are currently not offering full-time, traditional in-person learning. More often, schools are offering only at-home, online options and many women must make difficult choices between their professional futures in STEM ( (Boorstin & Taylor, 2020), (Kramer, 2020), (Gewin, 2020)) and supporting online learning, “pandemic pods”, or transitioning to homeschooling their K-12 students. This research seeks to document the importance of school format (e.g. online, hybrid, in-person, “pandemic pod”) on women in STEM. The results are intended to provide input regarding how policies in the future can better support these important contributions, but potentially, for more immediate solutions to be realized. This is different than many of the other on-going research initiatives that tend to focus on work-life balance and tenure (Rincon & Nguyen, 2020).