Last month, record job losses pushed women and people of color out of the workforce en mass with over 140,000 jobs lost in December alone. The effects of COVID-19 on women’s careers has been extensive. Women in the U.S. have bore the brunt of pandemic-related layoffs, resulting in over 5 million jobs lost according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How COVID-19 has affected women’s careers
Since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, working women have faced extraordinary pressure to balance both their careers and families. Over 2 million women have since dropped out of the workforce to focus on childcare duties and aid in homeschooling through distance learning as many schools still remain closed.
In a survey conducted by UBS Global Wealth Management, more than 60% of women said their careers have been hurt in some way due to COVID-19.
“The idea of work-life balance has been placed out of balance,” says Paula Polito, Vice Chairperson at UBS Global Wealth Management. “Women are having to renegotiate the so-called “double shift” and focus on household and childcare duties. As a result, their careers are taking a back seat.”
Additionally, the survey revealed that many women and men have fallen back on traditional gender roles during the pandemic with women taking on the majority of cleaning, cooking, and childcare tasks while men were more likely to take on yard work.
The still-prevalent gender wage gap has also been a key factor in determining who will leave their job when times get tough. The average American woman still only makes 80 cents to a man’s dollar. This means when one spouse is needed at home, women will unfortunately be more likely to sideline their own careers during these difficult times.
Is there a silver lining?
While the survey shows how women’s careers have suffered due to COVID-19, one silver lining from the pandemic is that women are showing signs of being more engaged in their finances.
In the survey, nearly 70% of women said they are discussing money more with their partner and nearly half said they are discussing inheritance with their kids.
The pandemic has brought on a sense of urgency for people. Families have begun to reflect and consider the “what-ifs.” These concerns for the future have prompted many women to consider what would happen if they lost their job or if something happened to their spouse. As a result, more women are talking about finances and engaging with their money.
However the survey also shows that there is a gap between intention and action for many. Survey data showed that while 40% of women indicated in May that they were considering reviewing their financial situation, only 12% have done so, resulting in a 28% gap between intention and action. The other numbers in the table above also reflect similar gaps, showing that there is still much work to be done in regards to how women approach and engage with their finances.
Lastly, the effects of COVID-19 on women’s careers have not all been bad. More than half of the women surveyed revealed feeling good about working from home with 66% saying they plan to continue working from home more often. Additionally, 53% feel it is less stressful and around 60% cite that they are more productive and have a better work-life balance now.