The Pandemic Has Driven Millions Of U.S. Women Out Of The Workforce

CHARLOTTE, NC. — When the pandemic struck, the home became the classroom, daycare, and the office for many working mothers like Carolyn McGrath.

“Trying to be in an environment where you’re at home in virtual schooling and trying to help your kids but really only been half there. Where are you may be sitting at the same table next to your kids trying to concentrate on your zoom call while the kids are on their zoom call, and you’re constantly interrupted,” says McGrath.

McGrath says she had never been so exhausted in her entire life. Since then, she has been able to stay at her job, but millions of other women could not. According to an analysis from the National Women’s Law Center, 2.2 million women in the U.S. left the workforce between February and October 2020. The Center for American Progress says mothers leaving the workforce amounts to $64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity.

Latesha Byrd is a career coach and talent development, consultant. She says women leaving the workforce in droves is harmful.

“There is already a gender pay gap, right. So as you think about women being displaced, being laid off even that is even distancing or furthering or expanding the wage gap for women, and it’s even worse for women of color,” Byrd says.

So what needs to change? Byrd says employers need to be more flexible.

“Companies really need to be mindful of having strong parental leave policies, implementing extended leave so that women can stay home if need be, and really providing them with the opportunities to work remotely.”