The Pandemic’s Disparate Impact Shows That Most “Workplaces Still Don’t Work for Women”
The United States of America
Women are the majority of the population.
The data that represent the COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on women’s employment continue to astound fifteen months later. Women’s labor force participation has plummeted to levels last seen in the 1980s. According to a May 2021 research by the National Women’s Law Center, women have lost 4.5 million jobs since February 2020, and approximately 2 million have quit the labor force entirely. These gloomy big-picture figures, however, mask the disproportionate impact on women of color: Women of color, particularly Black and Hispanic women, have experienced a greater drop in employment than any other demographic group.
Early evidence of post-COVID recovery indicate that the unfavorable effects on women are unlikely to go away anytime soon. According to McKinsey, women’s job recovery will take a year and a half longer than men’s.
Women who have managed to keep their employment aren’t faring much better: According to studies, women with children have cut their work hours by an order of magnitude more than their male spouses, and they are concerned about how their performance will be rated. Meanwhile, according to a Catalyst survey, women, regardless of parental status, report being ignored or talked over in virtual meetings at higher rates than men—an example of how remote employment might exacerbate subtle discrimination.
We will have missed an enormous chance to treat the actual causes of these massive discrepancies if all we do is try to get back to the pre-pandemic playing field.
It’s critical that policymakers and experts delve into these findings, assess their economic implications, and look for methods to hasten a more fair recovery. But if all we do is try to get back to the pre-pandemic playing field, we’ll have missed an enormous opportunity to treat the true causes of these dramatic disparities. The uneven effects of the pandemic are, ultimately, symptoms of deeper problems in the workplace that were present long before COVID-19—and will only calcify if organizations don’t tackle them head on.
The truth is, the pandemic and the financial hits that resulted have merely revealed the extent to which our workplaces still don’t work for women. As bleak as this. This is a brief summary.