Pandemic-Induced Job Losses For Women

One of the more widely discussed economic impacts of the pandemic has been the Female Recession. Recently, the New York Times’ Patricia Cohen provided an excellent, yet disturbing look at both the short-term and long-term negative consequences of this phenomenon. But even as new stats and stories continue to roll in, we must start to look ahead and understand what can be done to build back these jobs and put women’s economic power on a path to sustainable growth.

Unsustainable Pre-COVID Gains

Up until March, there was a litany of good news demonstrating women’s gains economically and in the workforce. The number of college degrees earned by women was increasing. For the first time, there were equal numbers of male and female college graduates working. In fact, female participation in the workforce had hit an all-time high by the end of last year. With this, Pew Research also found that working women were gravitating to higher paying jobs, boosting their average hourly rate from $15 in 1980 to $22 in 2018.

But a closer look reveals that not all was wine and roses. Those gains were built on unsteady ground and there were already signs that the forward momentum had the potential to stall. According to Ashley Putnam, Director Economic Growth and Mobility for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, research conducted in 2018 showed that women were at greater risk of holding jobs that could become automated, especially women of color. Further, a Center for American Progress study found that mothers were 40 percent more likely than fathers to report the negative impact of childcare issues on their careers.

If these two female workforce-related issues of job type and child care sound familiar, it’s because they have become the primary drivers of the Female Recession. The pandemic did not create these challenges, it only accelerated and exacerbated the pre-pandemic root weaknesses.

Consequences of Female Job Loss

The sudden loss of jobs in sectors dominated by female workers and the absence of viable childcare options led to more than 865,000 women dropping out of the workforce between August and September of this year, compared to only 216,000 men during that same period (according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis of Bureau of Labor stats). This trend is likely to continue as a survey by Lean In and McKinsey shows one in four women are considering reducing hours or leaving the workforce altogether in the next year. 

Even worse, says Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation, “women of color are disproportionately affected by this pandemic-induced recession.” This can intensify wealth and earning gaps that existed before the outbreak. To help, she is leading Comcast’s partnerhip with programs serving these communities in order to advance the training and support they need, with an emphasis on helping women of color close the gender gap in the tech sector.  

This troubling trend of losing female representation in the workforce portends broader economic consequences for industry and society. Reams of research, including a

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Flint kids can borrow professional clothing for job interviews or formal events through new program

FLINT, MI – Flint teens in need of professional clothing for a job interview or other formal event now have access to a closet full of options.

Current Flint School Board of Education President Casey Lester and Flint Southwestern Classical Academy Principal Christopher Ochodnicky joined forces this year to create a program where students can borrow suits and other professional wear for various occasions.

Due to COVID-19, the program has not been used by students yet. However, Lester and Ochodnicky said they look forward to having the program available when it is safe to gather again.

The suits will be located at Southwestern Classical Academy in a room the school is calling “The Jag Spot,” Ochodnicky said, describing it as a little clothing store where students can pick out professional clothing for events like interviews, senior exit presentations, homecoming or prom.

“Of course, these events we’re not able to make happen right now because of the COVID situation but we’re playing the long game on this,” Ochodnicky said. “If, for whatever reason, a student didn’t have a dress or suit and tie for one of these events, we’ll be able to help them out.”

Kids can reach out to either Ochodnicky or Lester to access the clothing program.

Lester and his wife opened a men’s boutique in downtown Flint one year ago called The Roman. Before COVID-19 hit Michigan, the store held workshops including “how to tie a tie.”

“I started thinking about my first professional interview and how terrible I was at it,” Lester said. “I didn’t have a tie, my shirt was untucked – I probably wasn’t even wearing a belt quite honestly. My dad worked at GM, he was a Marine. We just didn’t dress up.”

This inspired Lester to create a program where Flint youth could come in and borrow professional clothing. Multiple community members donated suits to the store. Jan’s Professional Dry Cleaners in Clio offered free dry cleaning services for the program.

“Everything was geared up, ready to go and then COVID hit,” Lester said. “Then my garage was basically just a defunct men’s warehouse with 60 used suits in it. They sat there for quite some time and then it hit me that it would be a great fit for the Flint Community Schools.”

Lester reached out to Superintendent Anita Steward who told him Principal Ochodnicky was working on a similar program. The two combined resources to launch the program.

Lester is currently serving on the Flint district’s school board, but Lester did not run for reelection this year. Despite no longer serving on the board come January, Lester said he looks forward to continuing volunteer work at Flint schools.

“At the end of the day, the school board position is a governing body but as citizens we all need to be operating in a sense of compassion as more of a philanthropic body,” Lester said. “I’ll never stop partnering with Flint schools regardless of what my position is.”

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Jets help empower women with online job mentoring event

Annette Guzman-Torres was feeling discouraged and frustrated, her anxiety fueled by the uncertainty of a bleak job market during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 44-year-old married mother of two boys is close to finishing the capstone project for her doctorate from Capella University. She has a 3.77 GPA, is a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success and has big professional dreams.

But Guzman-Torres was furloughed from her government job in March after the pandemic began and still hasn’t been able to return. She also found no leads for employment after her upcoming graduation.

“I was like, I have no job, nowhere to go, nothing to do,” said the resident of Bloomfield, New Jersey. “My fears, I was kind of letting them get to me.”

So, Guzman-Torres needed help — and found it, thanks to a collaboration between the New York Jets and Dress For Success Northern New Jersey-10 Counties.

Last Tuesday, 27 female Jets employees participated in an online mentoring program for women run by the affiliate of the nonprofit Dress For Success. The global organization is known for providing professional attire for women, but also helps build job search and interview skills with no-cost seminars and programs.

“It was a breath of fresh air, this event, because I felt like, OK, I see things a little clearer now,” Guzman-Torres said. “I can actually feel comfortable sending out my resume.”

Guzman-Torres was one of 11 women mentored during the event, which began as an idea by Jessica Mandler, the Jets’ vice president of human resources and administration. Mandler had weekly meetings since the pandemic began with the team’s three other female VPs — Jessica Ciccone (content strategy and marketing); Jill Kelley (legal affairs) and Jennifer Linn (partner management and sponsorships) — about what they could do as an organization to help encourage and empower women.

Mandler recalled being impressed by the impact a Dress For Success program had while she was working for the NBA several years ago. So, she connected with the affiliate in Madison — five minutes from the Jets’ facility in Florham Park — and traded ideas with Kim Iozzi, Dress For Success Northern New Jersey’s executive director.

“When I brought it back to the organization as a whole, they couldn’t have supported us any more,” Mandler said. “It was the first event like this that we had ever done. We had 27 women sign up right away, which was a huge win for us. … You almost got a little bit emotional at how excited people were and how much people wanted to be a part of this.”

Iozzi and the Jets huddled up to create a game plan that would benefit those participating as clients, such as Guzman-Torres, and those serving as mentors.

“They came at it with the right approach,” Iozzi said of the Jets. “They didn’t want a fluff program. They wanted to do something that was meaningful.”

The program included the Jets employees using Zoom breakout rooms to review and

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