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The COVID-19 Crisis, Pandemic Recession Is Undoing Women's Workforce Progress

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Many parents suddenly have the task of making sure their kids learn while adjusting to a new life of managing working from home.
NPR

While overall unemployment has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 crisis, the rate for women has been higher than for men. Experts say the pandemic may also worsen the gender pay gap, which is greater for women of color.

In-person service jobs have been affected most negatively by the crisis, and those positions are disproportionately held by women. More than one in three Black women is on the frontlines during the pandemic, and the unemployment rate in 2020 is higher for Latina women than any other demographic.

Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September alone, many due to lack of child care options.

The Equal Pay Act mandates equal pay for equal work but nearly six decades after its passage, women are paid on average just over 80% of what their male counterparts make, and that percentage hasn't changed since 2004.

In 2019, Black women in the U.S. made 67.9% of what white men earned and Latina women made 61.9% compared to white men. The ratio of women’s to men’s earnings in Texas has varied in the last decade, peaking at just under 86% in 2010.

Why does there continue to be a pay gap in America, and why is it worse for women of color? How could the health crisis affect efforts to achieve wage equity? What solutions have been proposed to bridge the divide?

What repercussions could the pandemic recession have on women's progress towards workplace equality? Could the coronavirus child-care crisis really set women back a whole generation? What can be done to mitigate the fallout and turn things around for working women?

Guests:

  • Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality and senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center
  • C. Nicole Mason, P.h.D., president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research
  • Coda Rayo-Garza, director of wage equity and racial justice for YWCA San Antonio

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, February 3.