COVID-19 and The Future of STEM
By Alexia Barillas
COVID-19 has affected our lives one way or another. Many people have gone and remain unemployed, while other industries such as the Tech and Medicine industries have surged rapidly. However, many questions remain about the outcomes of the pandemic, one of these being how will future generations be affected by it.
According to the World Economic Forum, “85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines” by 2025. Despite these overwhelming numbers, studies have predicted that 97 million new jobs that adapt to digitalization and this new way of working may surface. Within these 97 million emerging jobs, the majority of them include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields as a result of the fast acceleration of the digital era.
With these numbers in mind, what can GenZ and future generations benefit from this?
The GenZ population should make the best out of these numbers, as students should look into pursuing STEM majors,which hold a better chance of remaining relevant in the future, rather than humanistic majors which are more likely to be replaced by technology in some way or another. As of 2018, STEM employment was composed of 17.3 million people, and has grown 338% since 1990 (pewsocialtrends.org). Looking at this more closely, female students must be extra-encouraged to study STEM majors. Currently, women make up 28% of the total STEM workforce (AAUW.org), and many are often underrepresented and are not encouraged to pursue these careers due to gender stereotypes. Especially in sexist and traditional societies, the role of women in the STEM workplace is mostly looked down on due to the assumption that these jobs are more suitable for men. However, there is no factual evidence that supports the idea that men are better or more likely to succeed in STEM than women. By choosing STEM majors, there is more chance of a student to succeed in the future because these fields rely on rapidly evolving technology, while others such as the humanistic majors are more likely to become obsolete and be replaced by automation in the future.
Some may say that STEM is not the ideal career that they are looking for, and that’s okay! For those who do not wish to pursue a STEM-related career, the best way to succeed in the long term is to pursue whichever career path they wish and find a way to implement STEM into their field of interest. Some examples may include digital marketing, developing a digital newspaper or a blog (such as the one you are reading right now), and many others!
The GenZ population is composed of the leaders of tomorrow. Leaders who carry the power to innovate and move the world forward. The post-COVID era holds a chance for emerging and future generations to “restart” and make the best out of this ongoing situation. Now I ask you…
How will YOU benefit from COVID-19?
Parker, Cary Funk and Kim. “Diversity in the STEM Workforce Varies Widely across Jobs.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, 31 Dec. 2019, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-acro ss-jobs/.
“The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – AAUW : Empowering Women Since 1881.” AAUW, 5 Oct. 2020,
World Economic Forum. “The Future of Jobs Report 2020.” 2020. PDF file.