Why COVID-19 Is Prompting a Mass Exodus of Women in the Workforce

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from WTTW

Marissa Nelson | 16 November 2020

Angela Reyes, of Berwyn, used to work at a mental health hospital in the Chicago area. But after day cares shut down and classes moved online to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the mother of four had to quit her job.

Once day care was available, Reyes, whose oldest child is 8 years old, said her workplace wasn’t willing to accommodate her children’s day care and e-learning schedules.

“I’m in an impossible situation,” Reyes said. “I can’t just find a new day care. The day cares are limited right now … I can’t just come up with solutions. I need someone on the other end to work with me.”

Reyes’ two school-aged children have speech delays. In order to ensure they get the services they need, Reyes said she is partially homeschooling them and partially schooling them online.

“The teaching that I have to do with the kids is more hands-on with them because of the speech delay,” Reyes said. “Essentially, I’m doing a lot of remedial stuff. I’m getting a lot of support from the school to do that thankfully, but it’s still really, really intensive.”

Reyes is not alone. Dubbed a “she-cession,” women are disproportionately exiting the workforce during the pandemic. Economists and others are alarmed by the mass exodus, which they say reverses the progress women have made in the workplace.

Since February, nearly 2.2 million women have left the workforce, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The ratio of women in the labor force has fallen to levels not seen since 1988, NPR reports.