Nov 11, 2020
"Around the world, working women are facing brutally hard choices about whether to stay home with their children, if they haven’t already been laid off," says Laetitia Vancon New York Times.
As if working mothers did not have enough to worry about, experts are now sounding the alarm that progress toward gender equality may be the latest in a long list of casualties of the coronavirus pandemic.
Substantial research has shown that most professional gender gaps are in fact motherhood gaps: women without children are much closer to parity with men when it comes to salaries and promotions, but mothers pay a large career penalty.
Women tend to take on more of the burdens of caring for children and the family. To go to work, they need someone to help with that care. But fathers have been slow to change their behavior. And without subsidies, private child care can be prohibitively expensive.
Workplaces already tend to penalize women who choose to work fewer hours or need more flexibility, and that, too, is proving to be exacerbated in the pandemic.
“The bottom line is that based on decades of research we know that there was one institution that was effective at limiting gender inequality and encouraging women’s participation in the workplace, and it was early childhood education,” said Claudia Olivetti, an economist at Dartmouth College.
Substantial research has shown that women without children are much closer to parity with men when it comes to salaries and promotions, but mothers pay a large career penalty.Adriano Machado/Reuters
Now, the pandemic — and its hobbling of schools and child-care providers — is taking that away, too, piling pressure on working mothers, like me.
Around the world, working women are facing brutally hard choices about whether to stay home if they haven’t already been laid off. And the effect may be particularly severe in countries like the United States, where the pandemic is compounding inequalities that women already faced as a result of the lack of guaranteed paid maternity leave and affordable child care.