In case you missed it, we’re in the middle of a ‘shecession’ right now. The term was coined by C Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), to describe the disproportionate impact of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 on women. And what an impact.
Employed in many of the hardest-hit sectors (like education, hospitality, healthcare and service), more than 11 million women have lost their jobs and another 2.65 million have left the workforce since February due to caretaking demands or an inability to find work, according to an IWPR analysis of labor department data. Black and Latina women have been disproportionately affected by these job losses—in April 2020, the unemployment rate for Black and Latina women was 16.4 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively, according to IWPR.
It’s going to take a lot to undo the damage that has brought us back to 1980s levels of women’s participation in the workforce, including mandated paid parental leave, lower costs of childcare and flexible work hours. And another important piece of the puzzle? Normalizing career breaks.
The longer women stay out of the workforce, the harder it is for them to get a job or return to the workforce. In fact, one 2018 study found that job applicants who were stay-at-home parents were half as likely as unemployed ones to get a call back from a potential employer, even with the same qualifications. Enter: returnships.