How Coronavirus Could Widen The Gender Wage Gap

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from NPR

Danielle Kurtzleben | 28 June 2020

Mamie Brown is getting up earlier than ever these days.​

“A typical day for me starts about 4:30 to 5:00. I actually naturally wake up. I think part of that’s my anxiety right now,” she said. “And then when I do, very first thing in the morning is catch up on to-dos around the house and paperwork.”

She’s a self-employed lawyer in Fairbanks, Alaska, specializing in helping small businesses with things like contracts and HR issues. But now she and her husband are juggling work and their kids, ages 8 and 4.

When schools closed in the spring, the children’s classes moved online. That forced Brown to rejigger her workday so she could help her children with schoolwork.​

“​I always thought, oh yeah, OK, if I can’t work at 8:00 and 10:00 and noon, I’ll just work at 7:00 p.m. But pretty quickly, you realize that, you know, I have my productive hours, but I have to put my productive hours on hold because my daughter has mandatory things she has to do for her curriculum.”

Brown typically earns more than her husband, Wyatt Hurlbut. He manages rental properties and does repair work and renovations. But that’s work he can’t really do from home, and he gets paid more quickly than she does. For those reasons, Brown is now doing the bulk of the child care.

“​Right now he has an opportunity to get cash faster than me,” she said. “And even though it might not be technically as much as I could make if I was doing a full 40 hours, definitely because it’s cash in the hand, that’s better than cash in the bush.”

Every day is a math equation for Brown and her husband, as they analyze her billable hours versus what he can earn.

And as more and more families do these kinds of calculations, it could mean a reversal in economic gains women have made over decades.