Could COVID-19 Create a Long-term Setback for Women Professionals?

The entire world is experiencing the pain of unemployment and redundancy due to COVID-19 and there is now a massive concern that this will impact working women more than men because women have a greater share of childcare and housework, particularly because all children are now at home. Hence, women could lose the gains they have been working hard for, for years, and this could even widen the gender gap at work, not to mention the gender wage gap.

It is vital that schools and workplace reopen at the same time

Although the global numbers are showing that the employment rate for women has fallen due to the pandemic, this has taken place even in countries where women had a high employment rate prior to the crisis, like the US, for example. However, this could only mean that the entire world must gather its resources and work harder than ever to ensure that women get back to the workplace. “They continue to cite child care at a much higher rate than men do as a reason that they’re not able to work. And so for them, too, reopening our schools will be very important,” said US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Hence, it is vital that schools and offices open at the same time, rather than one before the other, or else the careers of women will definitely suffer.

Women are more at risk financially since they earn less and are involved in healthcare

Although many women are working from home, the truth is that more women than men are in essential industries like healthcare and sanitation and therefore, are more at risk when it comes to contracting the virus. Hence, the financial impact on their personal finances will be paramount, and more needs to be done to ensure the safety of frontline workers. No doubt these challenges pose a domino-effect, but this is a great opportunity for a much-needed overhaul in the way the world works. “Things like hiring practices, promotion practices, opportunities to re-skill, compensation, all these need to be measured. Building a more inclusive workplace and all the cultural changes involved need to be focused on,” said Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst. 

Whether one cares to admit it or not, the pandemic has brought to light the various inequalities of the modern world, amidst all the talk of diversity and inclusion, the reality is that we are still far behind. Now, business leaders are more aware of how this could have repercussions on local as well as global economies and we hope that this will drive them to take action that will not leave women professionals behind. 

Image credit: The Wall Street Journal

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