During the past few months, it has been well documented that women, especially those in racial minority groups, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
In fact, according to the National Women’s Law Center, the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates “only 2 in 5 of the 12.1 million women’s jobs lost between February and April have returned, nearly 1 in 7 Black and Latina women ages 20 and over were unemployed in July, more than 1 in 6 women with disabilities were unemployed in July, and pandemic-related job losses continue to hit younger women particularly hard, with nearly 1 in 5 women between the ages of 20 and 24 unemployed in July.”
This is caused by various reasons, like workforce reduction; breakdown in the caregiving infrastructure (school and daycare closures, lack of “village” support); and the fact that women take on the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities inside the home.
Api Appulingam, PHL's Deputy Director of Aviation, Capital Development, spoke about this dire reality as part of the 2020 Northeast Chapter – American Association of Airport Executives (NEC/AAAE) Virtual Conference. Appulingam serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Chair for NEC/AAAE.
Appulingam said, “It’s important to recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t affecting us all equally. Women and women of color are being disproportionately affected in basically every arena except for mortality rates. Building back with inclusive responses must be the focus for all of us.”
Besides financial and career setbacks, women are also experiencing psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of US adults in late June, more than 40% are experiencing adverse mental health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Research indicates that women tend to report higher levels of psychological distress than men, however, a new gap emerged when COVID-19 hit, as women reported substantially higher levels of distress than men.
Some possible solutions to alleviate women’s burden during these difficult times include employers being flexible (allowing work from home when possible, flexible work shifts and job responsibilities); equal pay; changes in social norms and role models; childcare assistance; additional paid leave; and government investment in social infrastructure.