“It doesn’t matter how flexible your bosses and your colleagues are — at some point things start running into each other,” one mom said.
By Martha C. White
The Federal Reserve’s most recent “Beige Book,” a document detailing current economic conditions, highlighted the dependence on schools as childcare providers as an impediment to economic recovery, with several of the regional Fed banks saying local employers were struggling to fill positions or accommodate parents juggling online school and job demands.
“Women have additional barriers and challenges to reentering the workforce, and childcare is one of them,” said C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
One of the long-term impacts of this pandemic may be a reversal of some of the important gains women have made with respect to increased career opportunity and pay equality.
“One of the long-term impacts of this pandemic may be a reversal of some of the important gains women have made with respect to increased career opportunity and pay equality,” said Debra Friedman, a labor and employment attorney at the law firm of Cozen O’Connor. “They’re forced to make choices between career and family, often resulting in a career setback.”
Mason said a disproportionate share of this burden is shouldered by women who work in jobs that require them to be physically present — a subset of workers that includes many lower-paid laborers in the retail, hospitality and restaurant sectors. “Those are lower paying jobs with less flexibility and security,” she said, adding that the problem is especially acute for single mothers who have little, if any, outside support for either income or childcare duties.
But even women in white-collar professional jobs have to undertake a delicate, often fraught high-wire act balancing an ever-growing list of obligations.