“When the pandemic hit, it was largely mothers who took on the additional child care duties; became remote teachers; and, in large numbers, quit their jobs,” writes Claire Cain Miller in her recent article in The New York Times.
Mothers have always been filling when unexpected family needs arise, reads the article, but the pandemic has exacerbated the difference. Research suggests that mothers are more likely than fathers to reduce in-person time at work when work and family obligations collide pre-pandemic. In opposite-sex couples, wives are more likely to quit their jobs when their husbands worked long hours; whereas when women worked long hours, their male spouses didn’t quit.
And now, as seven in 10 mothers are shouldering the bulk of child care during the pandemic, women’s participation in the workforce has taken a hit. Some 1.6 million fewer mothers are participating in the labor force this fall, and more have passed on promotions, reduced working hours, or are still struggling to strike a balance between caring for their children and tending to their careers.
The lack of social safety nets for child care, therefore, is as much an economic problem as it is a gender or family issue. “Part of the reason is that the United States has fewer family-friendly policies and benefits than other rich countries — a pattern that has continued during the pandemic,” the article concludes. Making sure that working mothers can access and afford child care would be the first step in fixing this problem.
Read the full article here.