The year 2020 saw nearly two million women vanish from the workforce, an unfortunate side effect of the pandemic induced ‘Shecession.’ Now, in March 2023, their numbers are finally starting to rebound, topping the pre-pandemic levels with 77.8 million women actively participating in the U.S. workforce. Factors facilitating this return include improved public health, more reliable schooling options, and a decrease in business or industry closures.
Hurdles To Women’s Return To The Office
Certain industries with a significant share of female workers, such as preschool and kindergarten teachers (96.8%), speech-language pathologists (95.1%), and licensed vocational nurses (91.3%), are flourishing. However, some barriers remain, preventing a smooth return for some women.
Ageism is one hurdle, as it disproportionately affects women over forty-five years old. Older women are more likely to experience dismissal or rejection from their employers, with ageism bias affecting them at least five years earlier than their male counterparts.
Caregiving responsibilities present another impediment, as women are five to eight times more likely to have their careers impacted by this than men. The prohibitive cost of childcare, exceeding the cost of college tuition in twenty-eight states, has deterred 12% of women from seeking employment.
Lack Of Confidence
Lack of confidence is another obstacle, with nearly one in four women identifying it as a major obstacle in returning to work. The pressure to maintain youthful beauty standards and the ramifications of career breaks have led to diminished confidence and feelings of being undervalued in the workplace.
Yet, women are not without recourse. Many are seeking professional mentorship to overcome self-doubt and manage imposter syndrome. Studies reveal mentorship can significantly boost self-esteem, the likelihood of promotion, and overall confidence.
The trend of hybrid roles is also empowering many women, as flexible working conditions enable them to circumnavigate biases and achieve career growth. More than half of caregiving women report that flexible work helps them save money or spend more time with family.
Moreover, an increasing number of women are investing in plastic surgery to regain confidence in their physical appearance. Procedures such as the ‘Mommy Makeover’ are being embraced by women, particularly new mothers grappling with body dysmorphia. By the end of 2022, nearly a million more mothers were working compared to the previous year, reflecting the positive impact of renewed self-confidence.
Undeniably, women’s journey back to the office has been fraught with obstacles. However, their relentless pursuit of equity and resilience are shattering barriers. With the right resources, women’s return to the workforce symbolizes not just a resurgence but also a testament to their indefatigable spirit.