Why COVID Hates Gender Equality

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The glass ceiling, the glass cliff, the daddy bonus — all the indignities of being a woman in the workplace can be clearly labelled, discussed, and hopefully addressed, if business leaders are committed to change. But the COVID-19 pandemic has tossed all the cards up in the air, and areas where we thought things were getting better are suddenly backsliding at an alarming rate.

Research has already shown us that the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is landing harder on women, endangering their jobs in greater numbers and leaving them more vulnerable to a loss of income which is already plaguing us nationwide. Now experts are worrying that whatever patterns we fall into during this time of self-quarantine could become generational, hobbling women and their advancement in the workplace for decades to come.

Part of this is social and cultural: Despite many couples' best intentions, women often take up the most onerous parts of child-rearing, homeschooling, and housekeeping. The viral comic "You Should've Asked" by the French cartoonist Emma perfectly illustrates how gender inequality takes root in seemingly harmless situations that become entrenched in male-female households. Women are dropping out of the work force more than men are, at a time when it's still hard for marginalized genders and races to get in the door in the first place.

There are lots of ways to support women in the workplace, even when the office is spread as thin as it is these days. Make sure your company is actively committed to doing so, at every level and with every resource it can manage.