One thing COVID-19 hasn’t changed are the challenges that women over 40 face when it comes to seeking jobs.
The pandemic reminded everyone that women will sacrifice their own professional future and emotional well-being to take care of their loved ones. Put aging in the mix, and it’s a double-whammy for women who want to earn.
.“I spent six years of working reduced hours so I could be available as a parent to my daughter,” said a 41-year-old married woman who preferred to remain anonymous. She had planned to grow her practice when her daughter entered kindergarten, but as lockdown hit, she had a new, unpaid full time job: Zoom school attendant. Now, as she resumes a job search, though she holds a master’s degree, the nearly half a decade of lost salary and career progression weighs heavily. “The care infrastructure in my household is basically just me,” she said. “If I can scale up, I wonder how that will work while my daughter is still young.”
“Women across age ranges are often locked into low-wage jobs, and as they grow older, it becomes even harder and harder to access employment that is more meaningful to them financially.”TheJune jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment for men is actually slightly higher at 5.9 percent than that of women at 5.5 percent. Yet, this same report shows a whopping 474 percent increase in the number of job leavers—that is, people who are now unemployed after voluntarily leaving a job. Alongside of that number is a 2.2 percent decrease in telework. While the job leavers data does not report how this is distributed by gender identity, we do know that women’s
labor participation rates have been driven to lows not seen since the 1980s, suggesting that women do in fact comprise many of these job leavers.“So many women are underemployed, including those who are working full time,” said Gina Avila, the founder of the headtopics.com
Women’s Empowerment Institute, a nonprofit that offers underserved women personal, professional development, mentorship and job skills training. “Women across age ranges are often locked into low-wage jobs, and as they grow older, it becomes even harder and harder to access employment that is more meaningful to them financially. The challenges are very real and very intense,” said Avila.
The picture that emerges is a telling one. The barriers to workforce participation that women and female-identifying people have always faced remains persistent. COVID-19 has erased many gains made by women in the workplace, and the pandemic promise of flexibility now feels like yet another promotion we were passed over for. The Bloomberg study above cites data that shows women could offer a $20 trillion boost to global economic growth by 2050. In almost any other model, it feels like employers would want to capitalize on such an opportunity.
Is the power of a corporate balance sheet enough to overcome hiring bias? Read more: Ms. Magazine »
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