How has the COVID-19 Pandemic affected women in the workforce?
The collapse of the childcare industry and reductions in school supervision hours as a result of COVID-19 are driving hundreds of thousands of mothers out of the workforce. Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September 2020… approximately 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. The lack of childcare infrastructure and family-oriented workplace policies present challenges for women. National inaction in conjunction with already unstable childcare infrastructure will have a negative impact on women’s employment and labor force participation rates. In turn, this will negatively affect current and future earnings of women.
The losses in availability of childcare as a result of the pandemic is leading to a decline in women’s total wages. It is estimated that there could be approximately $64.5 billion in lost wages per year if the current predicament persists. Without a coordinated national response, these consequences will have ripple effects that will hurt communities and stifle the economic recovery.
Interruptions in childcare affect women more than men. Women have been forced to reduce their work hours, leave work to care for children, and spend more time on education and household tasks. Women with young children have reduced their work hours in rates that are four to five times greater than the reductions of men. These disproportionate reductions have doubled the gap between the number of hours worked by women and by men, thus leading to a significant reduction of women’s income. The impact of loss of child has appeared to be borne entirely on the backs of mothers of school age children.
How has the pandemic affected women of color?
Women/mothers of color face intersecting oppressions exacerbated by the pandemic. Women of color are more likely to have lost their job than their white female counterparts and have higher numbers of being on the front lines as essential workers. This has caused a disproportionate reduction of wages for women of color and an increased health risk.
Black women in particular experience many more job disruptions due to inadequate childcare.
Unfortunately, there are too many factors that make it impossible to predict exactly how families/women will be impacted by the shifting landscape of public health, employment, and caregiving due to COVID-19. The impact of this level of disruption to women’s ability is proving to be substantial. Maternal labor force participation has been increasing over time. This slight decline would undo the past 25 years of progress.
What is Momentum doing to support?
Momentum Leaders is working actively to help combat the negative implications that the pandemic has on women in the workforce. Since March 2020, Momentum has invested in equipment, staff time and media to provide content to inspire, educate and connect women through this tough time. Webinars, panel discussions, mentor matching podcasts, blog, email newsletters, and all social media have been made free, making it accessible to anyone in the community. Momentum has hosted virtual events that have focused on wellness strategies for the challenges of coping with what 2020 has thrown at us. We continue to support women in the workforce through our Upward Early-Career Program, Men with Momentum, Mentor Matching Program, and Biennial Conference. Momentum is working to expand our reach beyond the Birmingham metro area, to reach an even broader audience!