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Where Have All the Women Gone?

Inspired by the NBC News coverage of recent report findings published by Deloitte, in “Women @ Work: A global outlook”.


With viewership of Hulu’s most-watched original title, The Handmaid’s Tale, achieving record numbers following its season 4 premier nearly a month ago, it should come as no surprise that women are seeking an escape from their own overwhelming workloads –at home and on the job— via entertainment.  And yet, that ‘escape’ to a dystopian television series based on Atwood’s 1985 prophetic novel, that so closely mirrors the current state-of-affairs for women in the workforce, seems to be more cathartic than entertaining; the show and its themes giving voice to the ‘perfect storm’ awaiting women following the COVID-19 pandemic.  And while America is still a far cry from the fictional Gilead, the disappearance of women from the workforce is nothing short of distressing.


The Findings

Deloitte’s survey of over 5,000 women from 10 countries from November of 2020 to March of 2021, confirmed what any working mother has already endured throughout the pandemic: an increase in responsibilities at work and at home, taking a devastating toll on mental health and leading to burn out.

  • 8 in 10 women surveyed said their workloads had increased since the pandemic began, but so did their responsibilities at home.
  • Job satisfaction dropped by 29 points over the pandemic, “with women considering opting out of their workplaces –or the workforce entirely— in troublingly large numbers.”
  • More than half of the women surveyed are less optimistic about their careers than they were before the pandemic.
  • Overall, 57 percent of women plan to leave their workplaces in the next two years or less, while 21 percent say they will eave sooner than that, all citing lack of work-life balance.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce altogether.

The Cost

The contribution of the female labor market over the past 125 years has been a major factor in America’s prosperity.  In fact, a recent study “estimates that increasing the female participation rate [in the American workforce] to that of men would raise our gross domestic product by 5 percent.”

However, women face significant obstacles in achieving their professional goals, made even more insurmountable by the pandemic.

  • The gap in earnings between women and men is still significant.
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in certain industries and occupations.
  • Too many women struggle to combine aspirations for work and family.
  • Further advancement has been hampered by barriers to equal opportunity and workplace rules and norms that fail to support a reasonable work-life balance.

According to Janet Yellen, a Distinguished Fellow in Residence with the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, “If these obstacles persist, we will squander the potential of many of our citizens and incur a substantial loss to the productive capacity of our economy at a time when the aging of the population and weak productivity growth are already weighing on economic growth.”

The Next Step

We cannot continue the devastating path we are on; the pandemic has wiped out the job gains women made over the past decade. Women now have an unemployment rate in the double digits, for the first time since data began being reported by gender in 1948, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Women’s unemployment in April of 2020 was nearly three points higher than men’s according to Labor Department rates reported by The Washington Post.

Kimberly Churches, CEO of the American Association of University Women believes we should focus our attention on bills and legislation that are focused on: pay equity, practices in the workplace on flexibility and on access to care—like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the FAMILY Act.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes we should focus our attention on the caregiving crisis, beginning with a national paid family and medical leave policy.  “We’re the only industrialized nation without one [a paid family and medical leave policy].  We also need federal action to stabilize the teetering childcare industry and to direct additional resources to long-term-care services and supports so that ill and aging adults have options besides relying on a mother or a daughter.”

Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org believes that remote work, as long as it is embraced correctly, will be key in maintaining the presence of women in the workforce while legislation and cultural norms catch up to the disproportionate caregiving responsibilities falling on the shoulders of women, one of the major factors in nearly 2.2 million women completely dropping out of the workforce.


While the US is a far cry from Gilead, our workforce may not be.  With women leaving reluctantly to be “stuck at home mom’s”, employers must take action to preserve an essential asset to our economy.  And the solutions don’t require a revolution; nearly a quarter of the women surveyed by Deloitte say, “better child care/caregiving support, short-term sabbaticals and better resources to support their mental health are the top three things companies can do to keep them.”  It’s time to get American women back to work, with the proper supports to stay there.

Spotlight

Friday Spotlight: Barbara Ryan, MD, Surgeon

I have been a practicing surgeon for almost 20 years, specializing in general and trauma surgery for the first half of my career, and reconstruction and plastics during the latter half.

Despite the fantastic surgeries, fantastic patients and fantastic income, my career left me absolutely no time.

The freedom that I thought came along with the money and prestige of being a successful surgeon simply wasn’t there.

In addition, the ever-increasing hours demanded of my time associated with paperwork and administrative duties, as well as the changing healthcare industry made me realize that things were only going to get worse.

 

I wanted to continue to help people, but I was tired of missing holiday festivities, family dinners, and really just never having quality time with my family.

I thank God for providing me the hope, courage and vehicle to make a change in my life. Not only have I been able to replace my surgeon’s income, but I am now working around my family life and it is so freeing!

I now travel to our huge family reunions in Illinois every Summer, take off for long weekend getaways with my husband, and enjoy relaxing dinners with my family. There’s just nothing better than finishing up dinner and then plopping down on the couch for popcorn and a movie with the ones you love. In short, I love my business partners and my life!

Spotlight

Friday Spotlight: Michele Martin, Finance

Michele graduated with a BA from UCSB and quickly started her ascent up the corporate ladder. She quickly moved from accounting to marketing to managing top client accounts and developing software solutions to manage her own sales and support team. For the last 14 years of her career she specialized in business process automation, project management, application development, training, and database management for one of the largest providers of commercial real estate financing solutions. As the Assistant VP of Information Technology, it was normal, and fun, to work 50+ hours a week, be tethered to a phone and solve anything at any time. Fun UNTIL, she became a mom. While she truly enjoyed working and contributing to the family financially, she needed flexibility to schedule completely around her children. In search of that flexibility, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to start two businesses that demanded time and financial resources, but never delivered a decent return. After nearly 20 years in the corporate world it seemed impossible to replace a six figure income with the flexibility she so desperately desired.

The decision to join Moms Making Six Figures came after unplanned, life changing events happened in her life. Given her prior attempts to replace her six figure income she doubted this could deliver on the promise of flexibility and financial security. However, with hard work and consistency, she is happy to report that just a few years into this career change the income potential has become a reality. Thankful that she took that leap to try another career change, she now has the flexibility and income that seemed so elusive together. She still works hard, but but on her terms. Now she is there for school field trips, important school events, regular adventures with her kids, and she can even workout and enjoy life. She is proud of what she has accomplished these last few years, but credits working with a phenomenal team to achieve their ongoing goals together. It is that camaraderie where Michele finds her greatest joy being able to help, coach and mentor others transition focus from corporate back home to their families.

To contact Michele email her at michele@momsmakingsixfigures.com

Press

Dr. Barbara Ryan of Moms Making Six Figures Featured in 92127 Magazine

Thank you to 92127 Magazine for featuring Moms Making Six Figures partner, Dr. Barbara Ryan. Here’s a brief excerpt from the article, which you can read in full here.

Dr. Barbara Ryan, a surgeon of many years, chose to make a change in her career in 2010 for greater flexibility. “I enjoyed being a surgeon and caring for my patients immensely, however, the medical arena was changing and I simply didn’t have flexibility in my schedule that would allow me to balance my personal and professional lives; something many women struggle with,” said Barbara. “Also, my husband is in the military and has no control over where we get stationed, meaning everything I poured into building a surgical practice (time, energy, and money) could be wiped out with one phone call. Not only did I want more time to spend with my husband and also to care for my aging parents, I wanted to ensure that when I built up a substantial income it was portable, no matter where the military said we needed to be.”

Click here to read the entire article on 92127 Magazine’s website.