LANSING, Mich. — A historic and disproportionate number of women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. New studies are showing many more are still considering down-shifting their career. Alicia Nieves shows us the long-term damage experts are fearing.
"So here are two of my girls” In addition to twin 3-year-old girls, Ashley Stewart has a pre-school aged son. The mother of three started this year, as a part-time occupational therapist excited about growing her career. “I had just found another position that I was going to start part-time in addition to the one I had, and I was hoping to build my career with that. Like move up to a heavier part-time or full-time position.” But the pandemic hit, and she like many had to re-evaluate what was best for her family.
“I switched to doing just a couple of virtual sessions on my computer during the week. It ended up that it was just too much to handle here, with the kids screaming in the background or climbing on me while I am trying so I ended up stopping altogether.” "I was excited to be starting to build up and starting to work more, and I’m sad that I’m not getting the opportunity.”
Ashely Stewart’s decision has become a common one for women across the country, just take a look at this data, from the department of labor. Between August and September 865,000 dropped out of the labor force, compared to 216,000 men. It shows woman are leaving the workforce at a rate 4 times higher than men.
“The number of women who have left” “is startling, because at the beginning of the year we were celebrating the fact that woman were 50% of the workforce. So we have lost significant gains since then.” Nicole Mason is President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
“We can draw the direct line between the lack of childcare and daycare closures to women exiting.” Experts, like Mason, are concerned if women continue to drop out of the labor force at this rate a decade or more of woman’s equality and progress in the workforce, could be erased.
“Employers have a role to play by making sure workplace policies are flexible, providing access to childcare.”
”The federal government has a role to play by instituting a national care infrastructure that will do more to keep women in the workforce by making sure they have childcare and other supports.”
Steps that could help women, again, move forward in the workforce, instead of back
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