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It is undeniable that everyone will be impacted by the coronavirus and many are hurting financially already. However, women may experience more than their share of financial and social strain.
Women already earn less than man at every level of education. Nationally, woman earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Many Americans have already lost their job as a result of COVID-19 and we will continue to see job losses in the coming weeks; Low-income earners will have less of a cushion to fall back on.
In addition to earning less, women take on a greater burden of unpaid labor than men. Research finds that women daily do an hour and a half more housework and childcare. With schools and daycares closed, how is that unequal distribution of labor being handled?
We surveyed 100 women to highlight the impact of the coronavirus on women.
We breakdown our data further below and provide first hand accounts of how the coronavirus is being experienced by women.
Slightly over half of the women surveyed are able to work from home. The other half are evenly split between essential and non-essential workers. What types of essential and non-essential jobs are dominated by women?
Using data from the BLS, we found healthcare positions on the “front lines” of the coronavirus. While these positions may have more job security, they come with the risk of interacting with a sick population daily.
One survey participant explained her thoughts on the situation, “[It] makes me nervous since I am on immune suppression for rheumatoid arthritis. But as a pharmacist, I donâ€™t get to stay home.” Another added, “My work has been so busy- I’m exhausted and scared we are so going to get sick at work and bring it home to our families.”
On the other end, women also dominate many positions deemed non-essential. Women working these jobs may be laid off or out of work for a long period of time, unexpectedly.
The bulk of servers and other tipped workers are women; They are particularly susceptible to economic hardships during this time, as unemployment is based off of their hourly wages and many take home the bulk of their pay nightly in cash. “We can’t even buy the food for the day without going to work,” One woman explained.
How equipped can women go without a paycheck?
While the 46% women could do two months or longer without a paycheck, the remaining 54% can only make it one month or less. More crucially, 13% of women cannot afford to miss even one paycheck without dire consequences. Many already have missed a paycheck.
States and cities across the country are on shelter in place orders for 2 weeks, with some stretching past 30 days. The majority of our survey participants are not financially equipped to go without work for that period of time.
While many women are handling unexpected unemployment, many working mothers are struggling to handle work and find new childcare arrangements due to school and daycare closures. 14% more women say they are doing the brunt of childcare than those who report splitting it evenly with a partner. Perhaps more concerning, 42% of women report they are now less effective at their jobs and the situation is hurting their work performance.
“I basically can’t work. I work freelance, and while my husband has to work from his Home-Office, I keep the kid away from him, but by the time he is done, I am too tired to concentrate on creative work,” One woman explained her struggle.
Schools need to be canceled. However, it seems the brunt of the labor is falling on women.
Everyone is, or will soon, experience the impacts of the coronavirus in their communities. There is plenty of hurt to go around, no one is saying that men will not experience hardships. However, women will experience different hardships, built upon their current position in society. The jobs women work, the statistically smaller paychecks, and women shouldering the brunt of child and house care will shape women’s experience in the coronavirus.
While many women shared their stories of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, others shared their hopes and innovative solutions to tackling new challenges. Many women understandably reported anxiety and concern over their families’ health. Particularly anxious are those in sensitive medical situations such as pregnancy or those separated from loved ones.
However, the most pressing concerns discussed were finances. “As long as we can keep working we will be okay,” One woman summarized her thoughts on the issue. Another described uncertainty over the job search and dwindling bank accounts simply, “I can’t afford to not work.”
For anyone struggling with the job search, check out Zippia’s Guide On Finding Work During The Coronavirus.
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