Wednesday, May 12, 2021

2021 has arrived. Will the workers recover this year?

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Hello, Broadsheet readers! The 117th Congress is sworn in with Nancy Pelosi at the top, Argentina legalizes abortion and we ask ourselves: do working women have a chance to recover in 2021? Go get your Monday.

– New year’s resolutions. Before the Broadsheet broke for our vacation, we had a big question: what do we expect for female workers in 2021?

2020 has been a year that devastated the female workforce like no other, with 2.2 million women forced to quit their jobs in the United States due to uneven economic crises and unprecedented care burdens.

Well, now 2021 has arrived. Do women have a chance to recover?

To answer this question, we turned to six experts to come up with their predictions. Each had a unique perspective – some more optimistic than others – of their particular perch working in this space.

Melinda Gates, who became a strong advocate for the need to resolve the care-giving crisis in the United States, called for policy to tackle these pressing issues, with a pair of forecasts depending on the direction lawmakers are taking: “If we ignore these needs, it will worsen the recession and slow down the recovery for everyone.” If we recognize that caregiving is infrastructure and invest in it accordingly, women can simply save our economy.

C. Nicole Mason, President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, warns that women’s economic recovery will not be rapid in 2021.

Jasmine Tucker, director of research for the National Women’s Law Center, spends her days analyzing the country’s labor force numbers. With this perspective, Tucker offers an even tighter reality check: “There are two people looking for a job for every job posting – so employers are going to be selective about who they hire. I hate to think it’s true, but we’ve seen it time and time again: Employers are racist, sexist, and older. They will not hire women of color or hire them for the lowest paying job. Older women may not return to the workforce at all. ”

Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org, discovered one way remote working could harm women: “by creating two categories of employees”. “Those who don’t have a lot of caring responsibilities and will have a lot of face-to-face time with managers, and those with caring responsibilities – mostly women – who may end up paying to work remotely with less. ‘opportunities, less time with senior leaders and less chance to move forward,’ she warns.

Read more expert perspectives on 2021 here. These forecasts may not be optimistic, but it’s critical to keep them in mind as businesses and policymakers determine the next phase of the economic recovery – and whether or not we’re leaving women behind this year.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe



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