Women have made some pretty significant strides in the workforce throughout history, but particularly from the 20th to the 21st century.
We are proud of the number of female leaders that run Fortune Top 50 companies, as well as those who are entrepreneurs chasing their own dreams.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has given way to what is being coined a “She-cession,” majorly impacting women’s careers and the labor force as a whole. A “She-cession”, a term created by Dr. C. Nicole Mason, the current president & CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research as well as a professor at Georgetown University and author, denotes a recession that disproportionately affects women more than men.
There are many reasons why the pandemic has affected more women than men. One of the main reasons is because many, if not all parents, struggled to find consistent reliable childcare at the start of the pandemic, leaving families with the challenge of taking care of their children full-time, along with ensuring they continued their education virtually. It certainly was an adjustment to work from home when you’re used to an office setting free of most distractions. Adding kids into the mix only made the situation a much larger juggling act, to say the least.
Because of the need to take care of their children, female representation in the labor force is at its lowest level since 1988, with 3.5 million mothers who took leave, left the job market, or were let go entirely. With many employers starting to bring their workforces back to brick and mortar, this “She-cession” is beginning to magnify, adding to the already-taxed shortage of talented workers.
So why is the fact that we are experiencing a “She-cession” alarming? As we’re all aware, we have always had disparities from a compensation perspective for female leaders. Because of the nature and length of the pandemic, the slowly closing wage gap will now take an extra thirty-six years to close. This means instead of the ninety-nine and a half years that were projected in 2020, it will now take an estimated 135.6 years for women to be paid the same amount as men. Let that sink in.
The side effects regarding the decline of women in the workplace have drastic effects on the economy. The longer women will stay out of the workforce, the more difficult it is for them to return should they want to go back. If they do decide to come back, it is less likely they will resume their old leadership positions as many of those positions needed to be filled. Oftentimes, those roles were filled by men.
Not only are women incredible assets for the passion and drive they bring to their careers, but in a time where the baby boomer generation is looking toward retirement and the labor market is booming and desperate for people, female leadership is more important now than ever.
Luckily, there are ways to help. Making sure hiring practices are non-discriminatory by age, sex, or background is critical. Implementing policies like gender-neutral paid leave is another way to allow for parents to split childcare duties equally. The new generations heading into the workforce will value any extra flexibility at their jobs, so allowing some leeway from the regular eight-to-five work schedules to accommodate families regardless of gender would be a major benefit.
It is also important with the pandemic still looming to ensure we give each other grace in these trying times. The past two years have not been easy for anyone. Understand that many people’s financial situations, daily schedules and futures have been altered, and it’s up to employers to meet them where they are at in their lives, not just their careers.