COVID-19 has been the result of the highest unemployment rate the country has seen since the Great Depression. Demographically, women had received the brunt of those few million jobs that had been lost. How did the gender gap manage to do that?
What the Numbers Say
The Washington Post reported that before the pandemic women held less jobs in education and health than the amount of who had been unemployed in those same areas. In other working fields such as hospitality and retail, women are a dominant presence. However, those fields were hit the hardest when restaurants and stores were immediately and sometimes permanently closed due to COVID safety restrictions.
Women also represent a large amount of the frontline workers helping fight the coronavirus. According to The Guardian, women hold majority of the jobs in caring for the sick while also performing 76% of unpaid work hours. Beyond nurses and doctors, maintenance crews and housekeepers are also majority women. These essential workers, however, were still paid their regular wages and salaries though working overtime and spending days at a time treating patients. Being the most vulnerable to the virus but the only ones allowed to work during its rise, the request for hazard pay was tumbled under the rug.
Gender and Race Disparities
Many essential workers are outside of the hospitals earning even lower wages. Black and Latinx workers who are more prevalent in frontline work and tend to earn less than a living wage according to the Brookings Institution. Every day since the beginning, they’ve put their lives at risk while struggling to take care of themselves or their families. NWLC found two thirds of mothers are also in the grouping of low-paid workers.
The unemployment rate among women was also a significant setback to the progress they’ve made in the labor force and their ability to be rehired. As companies become selective of who they hire when states reopen, low-wage workers have less of a chance of being considered again. Hospitality and leisure jobs are still doubtful for reopening as cases rise and winter approaches.
The Ever-Widening Wage Gap
Men on the other hand, hold more occupations that remained stable such as business and engineering. Those jobs also have benefits such as healthcare and have higher running wages and salaries. Men still earn higher weekly earnings than women according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The wage gap has also been observed to increase as the pandemic drags on.
The unfortunate truth is that women have much to lose during this time beyond unemployment. Many educators were snuffed of their job when schools closed. Single mothers have to balance work and working with their children. Women in low-income neighborhoods put themselves and their children at risk with a lack of access to healthcare to ensure they will be taken care of if they contract the virus. Women are in a state of survival far more fatal than men. Even in a pandemic, gender has succeeded in determining the prosperity of a woman.
Featured Image by Gustavo Fring on Pexels
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