The pandemic has wrought havoc on our country since mid-March: beside the 200,000+ deaths, the 7+ million people infected, and the loss of jobs millions and millions of jobs, for many parents, it’s had them scrambling due to the rapid disappearance of child care and school. The shift in particular in which parents have had to take care of their children while also trying to work at the same time is only just now starting to be understood from a labor perspective, and from a perspective of workload balance between two-parent households. While much has been written about how women have begun to take on more of the load of parenting while juggling their jobs over the men in their lives, as of yet, the hard numbers proving the disastrous effects of this arrangement haven’t yet been made clear. Until now.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics released data that shows in just one month from August to September, close to 1,000,000 women left the workforce, nearly eight times the amount of men, CNN reported.
Using the data that was released from the Department of Labor Statistics, Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress, tweeted a graph that puts the issue into perspective, writing, “We totally knew this was coming,” he wrote on Twitter. “But this month is a disaster for working women. 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force. 216,000 men did.”
We totally knew this was coming, but this month is a disaster for working women
865k women dropped out of the labor force
— Michael Madowitz (@mikemadowitz) October 2, 2020
It paints a stark reality: that women still bare the brunt of trying to juggle a career on top of being the go-to primary care provider for children or senior family. Some reports have shown that the pandemic has erased decades of progress women have made in the workplace in just a handful of months. When women are left to be the the default caregiver, and when they’re forced to try to juggle it all without dropping anything, aren’t getting support at home, or support at work, they drop out of the workplace. It’s happening at alarming numbers.
Another report from McKinsey Company and Lean In, from Sheryl Sandberg, showed moms are three times more likely than dads to bare the brunt of caregiving and housework. Its because of this that 1 in 4 women said they were considering leaving the workforce completely or downsizing their workload at their career.
The reasons given point to the truth that women aren’t being offered enough support at home or at work. Those that took part of the report said women were considering leaving for several reasons — including difficulties balancing responsibilities at work and caregiving at home. Moms fear being judged, or treated differently, because they need more flexibility in their work schedule to balance home. On top of this, women are feeling like they have to be available at all hours for work, and they’re burnt out.
So, they are forced to make a “choice.” To choose between home and their kids and keeping everyone afloat there – or their careers. This pandemic has made even the most solid arrangements re: child care and school disappear. So many families are struggling to make the situation they’re in work. Single parents don’t have the ability to scale back at work and to try and make the impossible workload feel less heavy. Some dual families can’t afford to lose a salary or health benefits, when arguably, they’re more needed than ever.