The pandemic has changed the way we work for many of us.

Offices are a thing of the past, with lots of us having to work from home instead.

It looks like Covid could have a far-reaching impact on the careers of women for years to come.

Women’s progression in the workplace is predicted to decline for the first time in almost a decade because of the pandemic.

That’s according to new data released in the Women in Work Index. It’s been put together by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and they found that all countries made consistent gains in women’s empowerment in the office over the last decade.

The new research sadly forecasts that all of this hard work will be undone. Progress for women in the workplace is expected to fall by more than 2 per cent between 2019 and 2021.

PwC predicts that the progression for women won’t start to recover until 2022, according to inews.

In order for the damage to women in work to be repaired by 2030 the “progress towards gender equality needs to be twice as fast as its historical rate”. Basically, it’s not looking like good news.

Male-Dominated Industries

Larice Stielow, senior economist at PwC, said: “In the UK, women were around a third more likely to work in a sector that was completely shut down during the first national lockdown than men.”

“Accommodation and food services and arts, entertainment and recreation are among the most impacted sectors.”

“In October 2020, the accommodation and food services industry recorded both the highest number of furloughed jobs (more than 600,000) and the highest share of furloughed jobs within a sector (40%).

“Women make up 55% of jobs in this sector. By contrast, male-dominated industries of manufacturing and construction, both of which have faced fewer restrictions, furloughed only around 7% of workers each.”

They added: “Losing women from the workforce not only reverses progress towards gender equality, it also affects economic growth.”

“Although jobs will return when economies bounce back, they will not necessarily be the same jobs. If we don’t have policies in place to directly address the unequal burden of care, and to enable more women to enter jobs in growing sectors of the economy, women will return to fewer hours, lower-skilled, and lower paid jobs.”

Homeschooling

A previous survey from trade union group TUC researched 50,000 women.

Over 70% of working mums had their furlough requests refused. Many asked for furlough due to schools closing, and having to juggle their job as well as schooling their children became an impossible task for many.

This is despite the fact that many bosses were given the ability to furlough parents who can’t access childcare since April last year.

It was revealed that more than 7/10 working mothers have not been offered this option.

In contrast, just 167 fathers asked for furlough. That’s a tiny number compared to a 3,100 mothers who answered.

75% of the dads who asked had their request refused, compared to 71% of mums who were told no.

The TUC survey was sent to all parents. Only 7% of those who responded were men, which researchers felt also proves how unbalanced the division of labour is.

Even before the pandemic, women on average spent six more hours than men on unpaid childcare every week. That’s according to UN Women.

Poverty

A UN Women report From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19, paints a grim picture when it comes to finances for many people.

The new data predicts that some 96 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2021.

47 million of these are women and girls.

Are you surprised by these statistics? Is the division of labour in your household more fair?

What can be done?

Image via Alamy