Women lost $ 800 billion last year
Tet Salva, a program manager at a high-tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area, was invited to share her experience during the pandemic as a working mother of four daughters to an audience of 2,000 leaders on her workplace.
She decided to be honest about the challenges she was facing, with the goal of letting other working parents know that they were not alone. Salva shared the push-pull she felt as she walked a tightrope from childbirth to labor at the same high level she always had, while also dealing with the increasing demands at home with the closures of the ‘school. Her eight-year-old daughter’s anxiety and depression escalated during the pandemic. (The impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health is still under investigation, but a recent survey in Germany found that about one in three children suffer from anxiety or depression related to the pandemic.)
“A particular episode with my daughter happened just before a meeting that I was facilitating,” says Salva. “I still remember where she was under my desk, crying. I held her hand, trying to calm her down. But the work doesn’t stop, right? Feeling completely torn, I said, “Okay, mom has to go to the meeting now.”
After sharing her story, Salva said the number of positive emails and notes she had received from public leaders was “overwhelming.” “I didn’t know it was going to affect them so much, but it had a negative impact on me after I shared this story,” says Salva. “I was asking for more challenges and higher level work, and the response was basically, ‘You have so much on your plate already’. I wanted to make this decision for myself, because the work is the place where I can be “me” and have some influence on the production. The goals kept changing on my plans, and it got to the point that I could no longer share my caregiving responsibilities for fear of negative reactions. Prejudice is still alive and well for caregivers in the workplace. “
The issue is close to the heart of Salva, who uses her voice as a woman of color, immigrant and caregiver to amplify caregivers in the workplace – especially caregivers of color – through community, mentoring and lectures. as the founder of MomWarrior.
Today, May 5 is Equal Pay Mothers Day, and the stigma and discrimination is evident on a large scale when we look at the data on the pay gap: Mothers who work full time. year-rounds away from home receive 75 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, according to the National Women‘s Law Center. The gap widens based on race and ethnicity: Latin mothers receive 46 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white fathers; Native American mothers are paid 50 cents; Black mothers are paid 52 cents; and non-Hispanic white mothers are paid 71 cents.
Additionally, mothers make up a disproportionate share of core Covid workers, but they are only paid a fraction of what fathers are paid to do the same job. More than one in four people working as home health aides, orderlies and licensed practical nurses are mothers, and nearly two-thirds of those mothers are mothers of color.
“This data is from 2019, the last year we have, so we don’t yet know how the pandemic will manifest itself in terms of the mother’s pay gap,” says Emily Martin, vice president of education and health. workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center. “It’s possible that the pay gap could even be narrowing from a data perspective, because so many jobs were lost and so many low-paid workers were suddenly taken out of the equation. There were a lot of challenges for the women, but especially for the mothers. Not only have we hit a recession with significant job losses – and particularly significant job losses in occupations where women are overrepresented – but our entire care infrastructure has exploded with about three days. All costs related to child care are costs that women continue to bear disproportionately in private, and this has an impact on the gender pay gap and women’s economic security.
Covid has cost women around the world more than $ 800 billion in lost income in one year. “The pandemic has hit black and Latin women the hardest,” says Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and organizer of the Marshall Plan for Moms, which is rolling out the Mother’s Day campaign. than a flower shop ”and selling a“ wage gap bouquet ”for $ 15,000 – the average annual amount lost due to the mother’s wage gap.
“Black and Latin women act as the primary or sole breadwinner of their families at higher rates than white women, and we know that closures due to a pandemic are hitting economic sectors that disproportionately employ them,” said Saujani. “We need to adopt policy changes that help them get back on their feet now. But we need to do more than pass new laws – we need to fundamentally change the way we value mothers’ work in this country. We need a cultural change that recognizes and rewards moms for the unpaid and invisible work they do every day. “
Women’s unpaid work helps support the global economy. In fact, an Oxfam report estimates that the value of the time women spend in unpaid care work is worth $ 10 trillion to the global economy each year.
“Caregiving is work that has been done primarily by women,” says Martin. “When it was done for money, it was mostly done by women of color. It has been undervalued and seen as something natural that you do out of love, rather than having a broader economic value that requires skills that should be paid for. The pandemic has made it more indisputable than ever that this is not just a private family problem; it is a national problem that requires a national solution. It is not only the well-being of parents and children at stake, but also the well-being of our economy and the health of our nation. “
Until the policy change catches up, men can better support women at home by taking on caregiving duties as well. “A big step forward would be for men to step in and help reframe the notion that caregiving is not just women’s job, but also their job,” says Salva. When it comes to the workplace, Salva believes that one of the main root causes of the pay gap is lack of access to opportunities. “For leaders who can influence real change, just open the door, give us a chance and give us that access,” she says. “Also, focus on mentoring women who have left the workforce to help them come back.”
Businesses can also step in to support caregivers during the pandemic and beyond. “It is always the responsibility of caregivers, as opposed to our employers or the government, to speak up and ask for a change or time off to care for us and our families,” says Salva. “I hope that will change. For example, LinkedIn recently gave employees a week off to completely unplug without email to help reduce pandemic burnout. If more companies started doing things like this I think you would see a more loyal workforce that will really come forward for you because you have come forward for them.