The pandemic has hit us all in different ways, but study after study has confirmed that women have taken the hardest hit.
Anyone with school-age kids is well versed in the scramble that occurs in the best of times to find before-care, after-care and summer care (not to mention random holidays and professional development days), but complete school shutdowns for weeks, even months at a time? That was a whole new strain, and it fell, and continues to fall, largely on women. For some it meant being forced to quit their jobs, for others it meant struggling through trying to work while simultaneously balancing childcare and homeschooling.
But even outside of childcare issues, American women have lost more jobs during the pandemic than their male counterparts (5.3 million as of Feb. compared to 4.6 million by men). This isn’t a surprise, as women are disproportionally represented in the hardest hit sectors like hospitality, education and health services.
Small businesses in those hardest hit sectors are also more likely to be owned by women. According to an August 2020 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the number of female owners who ranked their business’ health as “somewhat or very good” fell by 13% during the pandemic, compared to only a 5% decrease reported by male-owned businesses. Women-owned businesses cut more staff, lost more revenue, and feel less optimistic about the future. And for women of color, the reality has been even worse. In the first 8 months of the pandemic, the number of Hispanic women in the U.S. labor force fell nearly 7%, the number of Black women declined 5.6%, and the number of white women by nearly 3%. That compares to a drop of just 1.7% for white men and less than 1% for Hispanic men.
That’s a lot of bad news without a lot of easy answers, which is why we chose to take a different approach with this annual Women’s Edition and focus on some good news. For instance, three recent very high-profile jobs have all been awarded to women. Who are they and what are their plans? We take a look.
The pandemic has been a time for so many of us to examine our careers and reevaluate our goals. For some, it’s been a time to change course completely, even start a business. One move that can help with all of those things is to find a good mentor. We asked some of this region’s highest performing women how mentorship has made a difference for them, and how to do it right.
Finally, here’s to all the women out there getting it done, for some, amidst incredible odds. May we come out of this with a renewed resolve for the equity that’s long been overdue.
Kimberley Singletary, Managing Editor