From increased child care responsibilities to the greater likelihood of being laid off, the pandemic has been particularly tough on women.
In its annual Women in the Workplace report, the consulting group McKinsey says, “The COVID-19 crisis could set women back half a decade.”
Across the country last year, women lost 1 million more jobs than men did, and women of color, with their overrepresentation in the hard-hit service sector, were especially vulnerable.
"There's there's a real stepping back in terms of equality for the genders in the workplace because of the pandemic," said Nevada State College psychology Associate Professor Shantal Marshall. "In terms of their jobs, they are leaving the workforce in greater numbers than men in raw numbers, even though women actually make up less of the labor force, and so that percentage is much higher for women."
One of the factors keeping women out of the workforce is a lack of affordable child care, said Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat who represents suburban Las Vegas and Henderson.
“In Nevada, we have what we call ‘child care desert,’ meaning that parents just don't have access to the child care they need,” she said. “Nevada is one of 33 states and the District of Columbia where infant care is more expensive than the cost of college.”
Lee said child care proposals feature prominently in the Democrats' Build Back Better Act, which would expand child tax credits, spend $15 billion for child care facilities, create a child care information network for parents, and establish a grant program to boost the pay of child care workers.
“It's not just helping families pay for it, but it's also making sure that we're investing in getting enough child care providers out there so that parents can access high-quality child care,” Lee told State of Nevada.
The conundrum of child care and the responsibility falling largely on women predates the pandemic but has been exacerbated by it, said another Nevada State professor.
“You come home and you do your mom job, you do the dishes, do the laundry, make sure food is in the fridge,” said psychology Associate Professor Laura Naumann.”And now it's this added element of making sure your child is getting their learning done.”
Professor Marshall echoed that, saying mothers get tasked with a never-ending series of mission-critical responsibilities.
"I always use the analogy of spinning plates and keeping them up," she said. "It's like, I've got to get my child on Zoom. Now I've got to go to my Zoom meeting. Now I've got to go get groceries, right. So there's a lot going on."
Shantal Marshall, Associate Professor of Psychology, Nevada State College; Laura Naumann, Associate Professor of Psychology, Nevada State College, Kathleen Taylor, Program and Marketing Coordinator, Nevada Women's Business Center; Susie Lee, Congresswoman, NV-3
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