As the pandemic drags on, there’s been a steady undercurrent of news about the plight in which working parents, particularly moms, find themselves. Data from many sectors indicates that women are running backwards when it comes to equality in the workplace, with more than 2.2 million (probably more now) leaving the workforce since shutdown orders resulting from COVID-19 began last year.
One of the latest headlines to hit the mainstream came from The New York Times, in an article that calls for action to rectify—or at least bandage—the situation. In “Working Moms Are Struggling. Here’s What Would Help” writer Claire Cain Miller issues a call to employers, the government and even individuals to offer real support for mothers who are really “not OK.”
This is an important conversation, as it is now clear that back-to-school and back-to-work have not gone as planned—and things will likely never be the same again. In our own American Worker Study we explored the pressures on working parents, stress levels, and personal finances, building on findings from our ongoing Logica® Future of Money Study. We also found the gender gap is widening.
Our data from the American Worker Study, collected in partnership with InnovateMR and Women in Research, revealed that women are reporting more negative impacts from the pandemic fallout than their male counterparts. Not surprising, since 40% of them are shouldering the bulk of the child care burden (vs. 14% for men). Women are also feeling the impacts of anxiety more acutely, with greater difficulties surrounding eating, sleeping and focusing.
A broadcast this week on WYNC studios “The Takeaway” highlighted a caller on The New York Times primal scream hotline, and referenced the recent working moms article. A mother with tears in her voice said, “I can’t remember the last time I did not worry. When I did not spend my day worrying about so much stuff.” She speaks for moms everywhere. Stress is at an all-time high. (We provide practical advice for brands to help combat consumer stress among their own constituencies here.)
When we look closely at the work impacts, our study found that women are 10 percentage points less likely than men to feel optimistic about their finances in the next six months. Additionally, we collected data showing that 23% of women end up short financially each month compared to 14% of men; and 14% of men are investing in the stock market more and only 7% of women. The New York Times outlined the “one-two-three” punch women have faced when it comes to their careers. With many facing a choice between caring for children or working, they really have had no choice. And they’ve been forced to leave the workforce, putting their finances in a precarious position. “At this point in the pandemic, mothers don’t just need time; they need money.”
It’s time to find a way forward, and it will take a village—as they say. It starts by understanding their needs, and then understanding what to do about those needs in order to move forward. We remain in the thick of dealing with the pandemic, and if we’re going to see working moms through this crisis successfully, we’ll have to work together to get there.
To learn more about upcoming studies on women and work, reach out to us.