As we enter Women’s History month, we want to shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working women, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID economy. In January of this year, women were down 5.4 million jobs from February 2020 as compared to men, who lost 4.4 million jobs over the same time-period.
Industries that typically employ a lot of women – education, retail, hospitality – have seen significant job losses over the past year.
But even women who were able to keep their jobs – either working remotely or because they are essential workers – have struggled because of the added burden of childcare issues, distance learning support, and domestic responsibilities that traditionally fall to women. These stressors can be even harder for women who face additional challenges such as poverty, race, having special needs children, or single parenting.
As a result, nearly 2.2 million women have left the labor force entirely, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). This means they are no longer looking for employment and are no longer counted in unemployment statistics. School closures and the lack of available, affordable childcare are two of the main reasons.
At the beginning of 2020, women accounted for 50.3% of the workforce. The NWLC report noted that it may take years if not decades for women to fully return at that level. The long-term impacts of this for women include stalled career opportunities for higher-level jobs and reduced social security and other retirement savings.
So, what’s to be done?
In an open letter in the Washington Post, a group of men, including celebrities, sports figures, academics and a former Presidential candidate, declared their support for a “Marshall Plan for Moms” a bold 360-plan to get women back to work. The plan was put forth in January by 50 prominent women who called on the Biden Administration to provide direct payments to moms and pass long overdue policies addressing paid family leave, affordable childcare, and pay equity.
The men’s letter declared: “When more than 30 years of progress for women in the workforce can be erased in 9 months, the underlying system is broken. It’s time to create a new structure that works for women, that respects and values their labor. Men have a role to play. As partners and fathers, we need to start doing our share at home. Studies show we are failing.”
Employers also have a role to play. I’ll be talking about that in my next blog. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I will be participating in a panel discussion during a webinar – Professional Women Returning to Work – on Thursday, March 25, hosted by Phase2 Careers.
The panel discussion will provide tips and practical advice on:
- Transitioning back into the job market
- Professional development
- The job search process and networking
- Resumes and interviewing
- Balancing work and family
I hope you will join us!