Study warns COVID-19 could erase years of progress for working women

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(CBS News) – A new study warns the coronavirus could erase years of progress for working women. The report from LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company found that one in four women said they were considering leaving the workforce or downshifting career goals because of COVID-19, far more than men.

“Women cannot be expected to live up to business-as-usual expectations right now. Nobody can,” says Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org. The report found many senior-level women are feeling burned out due to greater demands at work and at home.

Only one in three women of color said they heard from a manager about how they were be doing following recent racial violence. “We know that Black women who had an ally over the course of the pandemic are two and a half times more likely to see a fair workplace and to want to stay,” says Lareina Yee, chief diversity and inclusion officer and McKinsey & Company.

The study finds women also face a caregiving crisis during COVID-19, with mothers three times as likely as fathers to be responsible for childcare.

Kate Orr was a third-grade teacher before she quit her job at an elementary school to care for her four month old. “It’s just human nature as a mother to want to do what’s best for your family,” she says.

When the pandemic hit, Kanisha Mayweather left a job as a warehouse associate because of safety concerns. “I have a one year old. She has breathing issues, and I also have a 13 year old. She has a rare type of cancer, and so I really had to leave my job because of them,” she says.

Researchers suggest employers take bold steps during the pandemic to create a more flexible and fair workplace for women and men, and set clear goals to ensure all employees feel supported.

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