There’s no arguing the fact that COVID-19 has left a lasting impression on the world as we know it. We can feel this influence in our personal lives and our professional lives, as well as the industries that we know and work in. For women, the pandemic has fundamentally changed our role in the workforce. We are grappling with these changes every day, and we still have more work to do. In this article, we’ll explore these impacts and what we can do to recover.
The Emotional Cost of COVID-19
Living through a pandemic has proven to be difficult for everyone. When the first stay-at-home orders went out, society shifted in a big way. At-risk friends and relatives were forced to rely on others for care, with many of these tasks falling to the women that they depended on for support. Students were barred from schools, leaving children at home and in need of more care. Quickly, we realized that our gender and COVID-19 could bring even more new challenges.
This dependency on women has led to emotional burdens and mental health struggles. This is paired with caregiver guilt as women have been tasked with caring for those around them, often while ignoring their own needs. Adding to this, pregnant women are experiencing more stress due to the increased health risks posed by COVID-19. In 2020, women reported mental health impacts at three times the rate of men.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Working Mothers
When the pandemic first began, women in the workforce immediately took the largest hit. In the state of Colorado alone, the female workforce dropped to its lowest rate in 20 years, down to 56.3%. Diversity in workspaces plummeted while the assault on women in the workforce came in two primary forms.
It began with business closures as women-dominated industries were hit the hardest. Public-facing spaces like professional childcare, hospitality, and personal care were disproportionally affected. Then, more women across a variety of industries were forced from their jobs as school closures began around the world. With no access to school or daycares, mothers were forced home to care for their children—and for many, this still hasn’t changed.
There’s a Distinct Need for Flexibility
As we move towards a future where the world is a little more open and accessible, it seems natural that women will be able to enter the workforce again—but it isn’t all that simple. Many children are still at home, and the threat of another shutdown seems to be constantly looming. While places, like childcare spaces, are slowly opening, they are not as accessible as they used to be.
More mothers are hitting an unexpected maternal wall and need to be able to work from home so they can participate in the balancing act that comes with being a full-time mother at home and a remote employee. With more workspaces returning to in-person work, more women are being left behind or seeking new employment opportunities that are more flexible and offer inclusion that can accommodate the dual role of motherhood and professional career advancement.
It has never been easy to be a woman in the workforce, and it feels like the world just keeps coming up with new ways to challenge us. Throughout the years, we have faced hardships and changes, but we continue to adapt and find ways to make new spaces for ourselves. A pandemic will not change that, and we will once again find our place of empowerment in this new world, just like we always do.
At Stay in the Game, we believe that women have unique abilities and perspectives that help businesses to thrive. Hiring women and helping them to find that perfect place in the workforce is what we do best, and we are happy to play a role in helping women to succeed. COVID-19 impacted women in many trying ways, but we have already proven that we can bounce back—especially when we work together.