To get an equal seat at the dinner table, women need to break down barriers in the workplace. As the women climbed the ranks, the glass ceiling still seemed out of reach, even though it was cracked.
Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was at a 50-year low, and a large portion of the job gains went to women. This represents the best labor participation rate since 1999, as higher wages and better career prospects have attracted more women into the workforce.
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, its inequalities against women disrupted their progress. As the ensuing effects of the health crisis wiped out job growth, a host of burdens fell on women. Not only are women focused on some of the hardest hit sectors, from leisure and hospitality to health and education, they face new family responsibilities with limited support.
Women manage children at home while taking care of older family members. They are navigating uncharted waters while trying to stay afloat.
Earlier during the pandemic, when many schools and daycare facilities closed for in-person instruction, we saw women leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. In fact, data from ADP, where I am an economist, shows that women have made gains in closing the wage gap this year (82% versus 80% a year ago), but with The cost is job loss due to low income, which overstates innovation and presents a false story.
While women around the world face more barriers, low-income women suffer the most. Any support for soft infrastructure collapsed before the pandemic, exacerbating existing barriers. Employers are now facing the challenge of returning women to the workforce that previously lacked childcare and aged care support.
Tackling the Basic Barriers
The reduction in women’s employment during the summer months has its roots in the pre-pandemic era. The employment rate for women declines cyclically every year compared to men by mid-year. This drop was especially pronounced for women with lower incomes. One reason could be that daycare and after-school programs may not be offered during the summer months or become more expensive and less reliable or convenient. A lack of affordable childcare options during the summer can force women to “voluntarily” leave the workforce, at least temporarily. For women with higher incomes, this effect disappears. In contrast, the rate of increase in employment compared to men occurs monthly and increases rapidly at the end of the year.
As the economy recovers, this fall has become a pivotal time for women. To attract women into the workforce, they need access to affordable childcare. They need wages and benefits to offset that expenditure and effective support structures to help low-income workers manage their multitude of time and resource needs, from support rent and safe transportation to on-site child care facilities. When employers are so focused on the health and well-being of their employees, progress is being made; but more needs to be done to establish employee wellness programs and childcare support for families. The increase in acceptance and capacity to work remotely and flexibly is a primary factor and a key factor in bringing women back into the workforce.
Give back fair
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