To bring about women’s real long-term engagement and participation in STEM fields, we must go beyond simply increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM education. While the number of women with tertiary qualifications in STEM has increased, this is not sufficient to bring about comprehensive, long-term, sustainable change. The key to real change is not only addressing COVID-related barriers but understanding the longstanding drivers of attrition and addressing the systemic and structural barriers women face when they work in STEM.