From losing their jobs being downsized in their careers, several studies have shown that women have been hit the hardest during the pandemic. A recent study by Qualtrics and theBoardlist, found that 34% of men with children who were working from home said they had received a promotion. This is 3 times more than the 9% of women that were promoted while working remotely with children at home.
Additionally, 26 percent of the men surveyed received a pay raise, as compared to the 13 percent of women.
The Pandemic Has Exacerbated The Hurdles Working Women Face
According to certified financial planner Stacy Francis, “It is a backwards move for women and it’s not just from a career perspective. It is also from a financial perspective.”
She says if a woman gets a pay raise in her 40s as well, this will be amplified for the next two or three decades of her career. The setback in a woman’s career when she is neglected when considering raises, is high.
“When we look at women’s retirement nest eggs as they get ready to retire, it is typically significantly less than the amount that men have saved,” she says.
This is just one of many troubling global statistics highlighting the gender gap in the impact of the pandemic.
While the study surveyed 1,051 salaried individuals in the U.S., the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on working women that the findings represent stand true for women globally.
A survey conducted in India by the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index found that 1 in 3 working mothers were also having to provide full-time childcare during the lockdown. Additionally, 2 in 5 mothers, were being forced to work outside their business hours so as to provide childcare – nearly twice as many as the men surveyed.
42 percent of the women surveyed reported that they were unable to focus on work due to having to look after their child. 46 percent of them they work late to make up for the loss.
Working mothers clearly continue to bear the burden of unpaid labour at home. The struggle has resulted in a spike in stress, and a drop in productivity and visibility at work (the latter of which was low to begin with). This has raised their chance of being laid off, and reduced their chances of being promoted at work.
Megan Goddard, an employment-discrimination attorney says that she’s seeing a lot of employment decisions that adversely impact women. The crisis, she says is “just exacerbating a problem that has long existed and that we have been trying to chop away at.”
“Employers are using Covid as an excuse to get rid of or get around promoting employees they find ‘less desirable,’ including pregnant women, breast-feeding women, disabled women, women with childcare and elder-care responsibilities, and older female employees especially,” she says.
Household And Organisational Structures Need To Change To Support Women
With how the world is changing, what needs changing along with it isn’t the way women work, but the external factors that make it difficult for them to work. There needs to be greater division of labour in households. And while a change in domestic gender inequality, societal expectations from women, and the traditionally patriarchal structure of households, is bound to be a gradual process, a change in organisational policies and how they treat their employees doesn’t have to be.
Employers and organisational policies need to account for the disproportional struggle faced by women working from home. They must ensure that women aren’t neglected or hurt by the organisational and financial decisions taken.
Finally, women themselves need to value their worth and boundaries. Don’t set unachievable expectations and fall into the trap of a superwoman syndrome. Ask for help. Ensure equal division of labour at home, and appropriate assignment of work at the job. If you feel like unfair decisions are being taken that overlook or hurt you, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your organisation.
Raise your power, even – if not especially – when you’re overlooked for a raise.
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