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Affect Study Reveals the Significant Impact of COVID-19 on Women in the Workplace

March 5, 2021

National survey highlights the unbalanced way women’s jobs, incomes and home life have suffered while working during the pandemic, and what employers can do to make a difference

NEW YORK– March 5, 2021 —  Affect, a public relations, marketing and social media agency specializing in technology, healthcare and professional services, today released the results of a recent survey exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workplace. The findings revealed the disproportionate burden that the pandemic has had on women, especially working mothers, who have experienced declines in income, job growth and job performance while also taking on added responsibilities at home over the past year.

The “COVID-19 & the Workforce” study examined the behaviors and attitudes of American adults in the workforce, as well as the impact the pandemic has had on them and their jobs over the past year. While both men and women reported experiencing some degree of negative impact, working women have shouldered a significantly larger burden than their men counterparts, as the findings demonstrate:

  • Prevalence of Women in the COVID-19 Workforce
    • When it comes to what the workforce looks like today, more than two in three men in the workforce (68%) said they are working full time, compared to about half of women (49%)
    • Women were also more than twice as likely to be working part time (30%) as men (12%)
    • Both men and women reported experiencing similar levels of unemployment, with one in eight men (13%) and one in seven women (15%) indicating that they are unemployed and looking for work; however, when it comes to working mothers of children under 18, that number increases to one in four (24%) who said they are looking for work
  • Impact on Job Stability, Growth and Performance
    • Two in five women (40%) – and more than half (53%) of working moms – said they make less money now than they did before the pandemic
    • About one in four working moms of children under 18 (24%) said they reduced their work hours to take care of children or a family member over the last year, compared to about one in six working dads (17%) and one in ten (11%) non-parents
    • More than one in five working moms (21%) took a temporary leave of absence from a job to handle increased caregiving or household responsibilities
    • Men were more than three times as likely as women to be promoted at work over the last year, and working dads of children under 18 were five times more likely to be promoted than working moms
    • Men were twice as likely to say their job performance improved over the past year (24% of men compared to 12% of women)
    • About one third of working moms (32%) said their job performance declined during the pandemic
    • About one in four working moms (24%) said they have considered leaving the workforce permanently as a result of working during the pandemic, compared to just 6% of working dads
  • Factors Outside of Work
    • While nearly a third of all working parents have reported spending more time on child care over the last year in light of the pandemic, more working moms (47%) are spending increased time overseeing their children’s education than working dads (31%)
    • Significantly more working mothers (56%) have spent more time over the last year on household tasks than working dads (31%)
  • Physical Toll
    • More than one in four women (27%) said they have spent less time working out or exercising over the last year
    • Working dads were twice as likely to say they have been able to exercise more during the pandemic (31%) than working moms (15%)
    • One in three women (33%) reported they have gotten less sleep during the pandemic, compared to one in five men (20%)
    • Working moms reported the highest level of decreased sleep, with 44% getting less snooze time over the past year, versus 18% of working dads

“The pandemic has wreaked havoc in the lives and livelihoods of many Americans, but women have been particularly strained over the last year, especially working mothers,” said Sandra Fathi, President of Affect. “Considering that women were already in a position where they experienced inequity across so many facets of the workplace, we need to take immediate steps to stop that gap from widening even further by offering the flexibility, support and growth opportunities that women desperately need in the workplace right now to ensure their success both at work and at home, and not be in a position of sacrificing one for the other.”

What Employers Can Do

The Affect “COVID-19 & the Workforce” survey also assessed what women need from their employers to be more successful while working in a pandemic:

  • More than half of women in the workforce (52%) said that a pay increase would help fuel their success
  • Nearly two in five women (37%) and working moms (38%) said they would achieve more success in their jobs if they were offered flexible schedules
  • More than one in four working moms (26%) expressed a desire for more child care support from their employers
  • About one in five women (21%) and one in four working moms (24%) said they would be more successful if they had more paid time off
  • Nearly one in four women (24%) — and 29% of working mothers — said that having access to mental health services would make them more successful while working during the COVID-19 pandemic

For more information about Affect, visit affect.com or check out its LinkedInTwitterFacebook or Instagram profiles.

About Affect

Affect is a public relations firm based in New York. Established in 2002, the company specializes in technology, healthcare and professional services. Affect employs a results-driven approach to communications, crafting one-of-a-kind programs to help clients achieve their business goals. As year-round strategic counsel, or a single project resource, Affect leverages its creative talent, unique experience and forward-thinking insights to achieve the precise results that clients seek. For more information, please visit www.affect.com.

Methodology: The “COVID-19 & the Workforce” findings are based on an online poll of 250 American adults in the workforce conducted between February 22-February 28, 2021.