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Career Corner: COVID’s Impact on Gender Equality

Women do 75% of the world’s total unpaid care. | Courtesy photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash

By Angela Copeland

January’s unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, with over 49,000 jobs added in January. As in previous months over 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 that women’s jobs are 1.8 times more at risk during this crisis than men’s jobs. Women fill 39% of jobs globally, but 54% of job losses have impacted women. You may wonder what would cause this difference. The pandemic is exaggerating an existing issue. For years, equality in the workplace has been on our radar, 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. In other words, in many families, women are taking care of the children and the elderly. They are also doing the cooking and the cleaning. With many schools closed to in person learning, children are now home all the time. 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, such as education, food services, and retail. Another factor McKinsey found was the high number of women owned small businesses that have been negatively impacted.

If you are one of the many people impacted, you may wonder what you can do right now to improve things. In all fairness, it’s a tough 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 is one that could be done remotely and you currently go in person, 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. Look online for company reviews, company 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, and then wait to see what sort of resumes come back. If you think you can do it, send in your resume.

It’s no consolation, but the pandemic is temporary. Hopefully this will be an opportunity for us to find room for future growth.

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

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