STEM Retention and Job Satisfaction in the COVID-19 Era
Sharon Sassler1, Alexandra Cooperstock1
1Cornell University
There is a large gender difference in occupational retention among STEM graduates during the early career. This project explores occupational goals during the COVID-19 era for a cohort of recent college graduates in two STEM fields, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, fields with a relatively large proportion of women, low unemployment, and clear career paths into basic science and applied jobs. Data are from in-depth interviews with respondents who have been followed annually for four or five years. Prior to March of 2020, the majority of our respondents were either working in the paid labor force or pursuing graduate degrees. During the pandemic, most retained their jobs, but moved to work remotely. A handful were “essential” employees who continued working on site. Early analyses indicate that the global health pandemic has solidified a commitment to remain employed in STEM; respondents mentioned job security, but some questioned their prior long-work hours culture.