COVID-19 has interfered with our daily lives immensely – from taking away the freedom to shop, enjoy entertainment, and dine out without any restrictions and rules to losing the __ to gather with friends and relatives to celebrate this holiday season.
But, the pandemic has adversely impacted us in many other ways. Within the first few weeks of March, COVID-19 has undone the advances we had worked hard to achieve for the past three decades with regards to women in the labour force – from increasing participation to decreasing the gender wage gap.
How the Pandemic Impacted Women in the Labour Force
Ever since the pandemic hit, there has been a drastic drop of women in the labour force, all while more men has joined. According to Statistics Canada, this is due to several reasons:
Women are overrepresented in industries that took the hardest hit
Women saturate industries that are slower to recover
Women work in industries less conducive to working remotely (ex. customer-facing occupations – servers, hostesses, retail workers, etc.)
Family care responsibilities are shifting back to women
- School closures or increased e-learning
- Daycare closures or size restrictions
- Rules on having nannies/babysitters
Aftermath of the Pandemic
Once the pandemic passes, we will be able to have gatherings with friends and family. We can shop, enjoy entertainment, and dine out without strict rules and regulations. We will return to a state of normalcy.
Likewise, we would assume that women who have left the labour force to promptly return. However, this is not the case. The adverse effects of the pandemic on women's participation in the labour force linger.
Several factors contribute to the prolonged consequences:
Skills withering/withered away – making women less qualified for the position they were in prior to the pandemic
Decreased employment opportunities
- Positions occupied by men when women exited the labour force to assume family care
- The shift to digital operation in many industries may be permanent – ex. retail stores will require
fewer customer-facing staff