The Latest Victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Working Moms

Danielle Campoamor
·5 mins read
Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images
Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images

From Woman's Day

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in some way, but it has not impacted everyone equally. Black and Latinx people are dying at disproportional rates from the virus, and working moms are losing their jobs or being pushed out of the workforce at far higher rates than their male counterparts. In September 2020, more than 865,000 women dropped out of the labor force, according to an analysis conducted by the National Women's Law Center. And a recent survey conducted by Inkwell and HeyMama found that three out of every four moms believe the COVID-19 pandemic has stifled their careers.

“This survey, along with countless other surveys and studies conducted over the years, shows what far too many of us already know: there is an egregious lack of systemic, substantial support available to working moms,” Katya Libin, CEO and co-founder of HeyMama, the largest and fastest growing online community of entrepreneurial and working moms, tells Woman’s Day. “I co-founded HeyMama because the support I needed as a working mother simply didn’t exist. And I’ve seen, firsthand, what community and the sharing of ideas can do for mothers who also value their careers and professional lives."

"These findings are dire, to be sure," Libin adds. "But I know that if given the space and opportunity, working moms will be the ones to reimagine the workplace and create a more equitable professional environment that benefits everyone.”

As you continue to think of ways to help healthcare workers, essential workers, small businesses, and the hardest-hit communities during this unparalleled public health crisis, consider the following ways you can (and should) help working moms during this time, too.

Donate to organizations that support moms and their families.

Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images
Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images

There are a number of charities working to support moms when they need it the most. Good+ Foundation partners with community-based organizations to provide moms with clothes, diapers, cribs, and parenting classes. Path Forward is an organization that helps women re-enter the workforce after taking time off to care for children or family members. And Feeding America supports over 200 food banks across the country. An estimated one in four Americans are either skipping meals or relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families, and a recent survey found that 17 percent of mothers with children 12 and under say their children are "not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food” as a result of COVID-19.

Contact your elected officials to do more to help working moms.

Whether it's passing COVID-19 relief legislation OR mandatory paid family leave, providing access to affordable child care, or ending the wage gap, there are a number of ways elected officials could establish and implement support systems that uplift working moms and their families. Prior to the pandemic, working moms were making 69 cents for every dollar working dads made. Since 2012, Republicans have blocked legislation aiming to close the gender wage gap four times, claiming such laws would discourage managers from hiring women. And even though an estimated 30 to 40 million Americans face the possibility of eviction, on Sept. 6 the president of the United States announced that he ended COVID-19 relief discussions and has, instead, instructed GOP Senators to focus on confirming his recent Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.

You can find the contact information for your House representative here, your Senate representative here, and, of course, check your voter registration here. You can also tweet at your Senator by finding their handle here.

Encourage the working moms in your life to seek out and ask for help.

Far too many working moms have been told "it's takes a village to raise a baby." This often overplayed phrase, while not always helpful, is true: No one is meant to parent alone. But that's what many working moms are doing while the country shelters-in-place in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. A growing number of moms no longer have access to child care, or can no longer rely on their parents, other family members, babysitters, nannies, or friends to help watch their children while they work. And since working moms were shouldering the bulk of child-rearing and household responsibilities prior to the COVID-19 crisis, inequities inside the home has left moms with an unfair choice: parent adequately or keep their jobs.

Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images
Photo credit: MoMo Productions - Getty Images

Changing a system that punishes working moms will take time. Until then, encourage the mom in your life to find online, virtual communities she can join to feel seen and supported, and even help her maintain her workload while parenting. HeyMama, for example, is hosting its virtual HeyMama Summit, sponsored by Lincoln, on Oct. 23 and 24, with a focus on helping moms create a plan to build and grow their businesses during this time. The company also recently launched a virtual Mama Matchmaking program that connects working moms with a mentor in their field to assist them with all things work-related.

The mom in your life can also join Momspace, the BabyCenter Community, and any one of these parenting social networks to find solidarity and support.

Stop referring to dads as de facto "babysitters."

If you really want to help working moms, now and always, stop assuming they should be the ones primarily responsible for all things child care related. Fathers can, and should, be just as responsible for their children, and assuming — or even joking — that they're not infantilizes dads and harms moms. To truly create a more equitable society and help working moms during this pandemic and well into the future, society has to change how it talks about dads.

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