Long before the pandemic, women were regularly forced to put their careers on the back burner. Whether caring for children or sick or elderly relatives, women were more likely than men to take on caregiving responsibilities that compete with their working life. Since the onset of COVID-19, that disparity has grown, and with many businesses being forced to shutter their doors, women are leaving the workforce in droves — often involuntarily. The impact of taking an extended absence from the workforce is multi-faceted, often affecting a woman’s mental, financial, and professional well-being, along with other areas. Not all women are struggling, but for those who are, the right combination of support and practical actions can ease the burden and help them emerge more resilient on the other side.
- In a survey of the mental health effects of COVID-19 in Canada, women, especially those with children at home, were among the groups most likely to feel both anxious and depressed.
- Those who have lost their job or are no longer working because of COVID-19 are more likely to have moderate-to-severe anxiety levels and were more likely than other groups to report feeling lonely.
- In an annual survey of women in the U.S. workforce during 2020, mothers were more than twice as likely as fathers to worry that their caregiving responsibilities would cause their work performance to be judged negatively.
- Seventy-six per cent of U.S. mothers with children under the age of 10 listed child care as one of their top three challenges during COVID-19, compared to 54 per cent of fathers.
- One-third of working mothers in Canada have thought about quitting their jobs during COVID-19.
During COVID-19, women of colour in Canada have faced far higher unemployment than white women (10.5 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent for white women, as of November 2020).