每日英語跟讀 Ep.898: Economic Strain Grows, Hitting Working Mothers
Working during the pandemic has meant very different things for Virginia Dressler and for her husband, Brandon.
As he, a delivery driver, continued his routes near their home in Newbury, Ohio, she spent her days caring for their 3-year-old twins. Only after her husband came home at 6 p.m. could she turn to her job as a digital projects librarian at Kent State University, finishing her eight-hour shift from home at about 2 a.m.
Later, he was furloughed and took over some of the child care responsibilities. But now, with the economy reopening, the prospect of being summoned back to campus fills Virginia Dressler with more anxiety: Day care centers are just starting to reopen, with restrictions, so who will take care of their children?
As the pandemic upends work and home life, women have carried an outsize share of the burden, more likely to lose a job and more likely to shoulder the load of closed schools and day care. For many working mothers, the gradual reopening won’t solve their problems but compound them — forcing them out of the labor force or into part-time jobs while increasing their responsibilities at home.
The impact could last a lifetime, reducing their earning potential and work opportunities.
“We could have an entire generation of women who are hurt,” Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, said of pregnant women and working mothers whose children are too young to manage on their own. “They may spend a significant amount of time out of the workforce, or their careers could just peter out in terms of promotions.”
Women who drop out of the workforce to take care of children often have trouble getting back in, and the longer they stay out, the harder it is.
The economic crisis magnifies the downsides. Wage losses are much more severe and enduring when they occur in recessions, and workers who lose jobs now are likely to have less secure employment in the future.
Family responsibilities as well as lower wages have always pushed women in and out of the workforce. Women often leave or lose jobs to care for a sick child or aging relative.In countries that offer more comprehensive support for families — like Germany, France, Canada and Sweden — a significantly larger proportion of women are in the labor force.
Despite the miserable choices facing many working mothers, several economists retain hopes that the increased pressure on families could — over the long term — force structural and cultural changes that could benefit women: a better child care system, more flexible work arrangements, even a deeper appreciation of the sometimes overwhelming demands of managing a household with children by partners stranded at home for the first time.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/354557/web/