The Pandemic Revealed Workforce Gender Gaps We Can’t Ignore

This pandemic highlighted our country’s reliance on underpaid and unpaid work.

Courtesy Goodreads

Right before our country shut down and COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our personal and professional lives, I read and recommended Invisible Women — Data Bias In a World Designed For Men, on LinkedIn.

Here was my post:

In light of the additional work, especially underpaid and unpaid work, many of us are assuming during these trying times, I encourage you to read this book. It was incredibly eye-opening for me when I read it BEFORE the pandemic.

We are at a tipping point to push for policies and social change right now regardless of your party.

I fear for the economic impact on women and children in the months to come. If you are a woman or care about women ☺️please consider adding this to your “to read” pile!

I listened to the audiobook and the author does an excellent job of narrating!

Unfortunately my fears came true — the labor pool for women has been decimated, especially for mothers.

Here are some scary stats from a Forbes article, American Women Lost More Than 5 Million Jobs in 2020 by Maggie McGrath:

  • In December 2020, women lost a net 156,000 jobs, while men gained a net 16,000. With 140,000 net jobs lost in the U.S., women accounted for 100% of the labor market’s first month of losses since a tepid recovery began in May.
  • If you compare the number of nonfarm payroll positions held by women at the start of 2020 to those held by women at the end of the year, American women lost more than 5 million jobs in the course of 12 months.
  • 2.1 million women left the labor market entirely since the beginning of the pandemic.

So, how do we fix it? The simple answer: get women back to work.

But, we have to address unpaid work to make that happen. This means a plan for parental leave, affordable child care, paid sick leave to just name a few items.

The article references an interview with Melinda Gates, who wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post asking our government and private sectors to revolutionize our caretaking system.

Since the pandemic began and schools closed, 43% of employed mothers have said they are primarily responsible for providing childcare, while only 7% of employed fathers say the same.

We’re back to 1980’s level of participation from women in the workforce.

It breaks my heart.

My next step is to educate myself. I’m going to re-read this book, Invisible Women — Data Bias In a World Designed For Men. I’m researching the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers Report 2020 and Reshma Saujani’s Marshall Plan For Mom’s. I don’t expect these plans to be perfect, but it’s a start.

We can’t rely on time to fix this issue. We need to do more.

Here’s my simple 15-minute daily routine that helps me continually improve.

Adrienne Parkhurst writes about leadership, management, parenting, and life. She dabbles in poetry. Adrienne is working on being a more courageous writer — she started writing memoir and it scares the beejeebees out of her.

I’m passionate about personal and professional leadership. I write about lessons learned from managing teams (and myself) for 20+ years.

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