COVID’s impact on gender equality

Friday, February 12, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 7

January’s unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, with more than 49,000 jobs added in January. As in previous months during the last year, hospitality, retail and travel continue to struggle. And, sadly, the pandemic is having a disproportionately higher impact on the careers of women.

McKinsey & Company estimates women’s jobs are 1.8 times more at risk during this crisis than men’s. Women fill 39% of jobs globally, but 54% of job losses have impacted women.

You might wonder what would cause this difference. The answer is the pandemic is exaggerating an existing issue. Equality in the workplace has been on our radar for years, but the pandemic is causing a backslide.

One reason for this difference in career impact is related to unpaid care. Globally, women do 75% of the world’s total unpaid care. That means women are taking care of the children and the elderly in many families. They also are doing the cooking and the cleaning.

With many schools closed to in-person learning, children are now home. This increases the need for unpaid care day to day.

McKinsey also found the gendered nature of work makes up 25% of the difference that is being observed.

Globally, women tend to more often work in industries that have been impacted by the pandemic, including education, food services and retail. Also, the McKinsey study found a high number of women-owned small businesses that have been negatively impacted.

You may wonder, if you are one of the many people impacted, what measures to take to improve your situation. There aren’t as many easy answers as one would hope for. If you have any opportunity to get help to lighten the load, don’t be shy about asking for it. But, sadly, this kind of help is often not available.

If your job in one that could be done remotely and but currently work on-site, consider searching for a remote opportunity that might make it a little easier to do family and work simultaneously.

If you begin to interview, do your best to stand out.

Research the company thoroughly by looking online for company reviews, performance and salary information.

And, when you’re deciding which jobs to apply to, don’t wait for a job to be a perfect match. If you think you can do the work, apply. Let the company decide if you’re a fit.

Too often, we take ourselves out of the race before it has even started. Many companies write job descriptions in a way that is unrealistic. They list everything they could ever want then wait to see what sort of resumes come back.

If you think you can do it, send in your resume.

The pandemic is temporary. Let it be an opportunity to find room for future growth.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at