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The pandemic has been disastrous for just about everyone, but for working women, it has been especially dire. According to Women in the Workplace 2020, a recent study from McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org, one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce because of the pandemic, and the challenges facing mothers, senior-level women, and Black women are especially acute.

On March 10, a Booth Women Connect virtual event will explore this important research, convening four leading women in business who will discuss the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses and their careers. Join us to hear from them about their personal and professional experiences during one of the most difficult economic years in history.

Learn more about our panelists below, and read on for key takeaways of the Women in the Workplace study that will be discussed during our virtual event.

5 Ways the Pandemic Affected Workplaces

1. Women worked and were caregivers. Women—who were already outnumbered and overlooked in leadership roles—were forced out of the workplace in staggering numbers to become at-home caregivers. As many as 2 million women considered leaving the workforce last year, according to the September 2020 report, which examined 317 companies and more than 40,000 people across America.

2. Black and Latina mothers are shouldering heavier burdens. They are more likely to be their family’s sole breadwinner or to have partners working outside the home during COVID-19, the report found. They’re also handling more responsibilities at home as well, with Latina mothers 1.6 times more likely than white mothers to be responsible for all childcare and housework, and Black mothers twice as likely to be handling these duties.

3. Parents fell short of expectations at work. While many companies added mental support services, offered remote and flex work, and trained employees to deal with the struggles that the pandemic revealed, fewer than one-third of companies adjusted their performance review criteria to adjust for the pandemic’s effects. As a result, many working parents either fell short of the pre-pandemic expectations, left their jobs, or pushed themselves to an unsustainable pace, the report found.

4. Women gave up their jobs. Given these challenges, a significant number of working mothers have considered or are thinking about leaving the workforce due to their mounting childcare responsibilities. In the McKinsey and LeanIn.Org study, 17 percent of working mothers with kids under the age of 10 and 15 percent of mothers overall are considering downshifting their careers, compared with 13 percent of fathers with kids under 10 and 11 percent of fathers overall. Nearly a quarter of women with kids under 10 are considering leaving the workforce altogether or taking a leave of absence, compared with 13 percent of men.

5. Black women weren’t supported. Only 75 percent of Black women have felt supported by their managers during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared with 84 percent of white women. They were less likely than women overall to report that their manager asked about their workload, or took steps to ensure that their work-life needs were met. And less than one-in-three Black women reported that their manager checked in on them in light of the racial violence experienced in 2020.

Chicago Booth Harper Center

17

Percent of working mothers with kids under the age of 10 who are considering downshifting their career

17
Chicago Booth Harper Center

 2,000,000

Up to two million women left the workforce in 2020

 2,000,000

Register for Women in the Workplace

On March 10, experienced speakers will share their personal and professional insights on one of the most difficult economic years in history, and discuss what impact the worldwide pandemic has had on women in the workplace.

Register Now

Meet the Panelists

At a virtual Booth Women Connect event March 10, four leaders in the business world will be addressing the pandemic woes facing women.

Alaina Anderson

Alaina Anderson, ’06

Anderson is a partner at William Blair, where she is currently researching a $35 billion long-only global growth pattern. Throughout her tenure at William Blair, she’s focused on many industries and sectors, ranging from expanding the company’s holdings in Global Real Assets to facilitating the first review of the global renewables industry. Prior to attending Booth, Anderson received her undergraduate degree from The Wharton School.

Alaina Anderson, ’06
Jennifer Scanlon

Jennifer Scanlon, ’92

Scanlon is president and CEO of UL, the global safety science leader. Scanlon began her career at IBM, and later served as president, CEO and director of USG Corporation, an American building products manufacturer. Scanlon also serves as chair of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the first woman to hold the position in the group’s history.

Jennifer Scanlon, ’92
Julia Taxin

Julia Taxin, ’12

A partner at Grotech Ventures, Taxin has experience in finance, venture capital and consulting. She previously worked at Sandbox Industries, examining investment opportunities and helping portfolio companies and management teams with their growth strategies.

Julia Taxin, ’12
Kweilin Ellingrund

Moderator: Kweilin Ellingrud

As the senior partner serving McKinsey’s life insurance division in Minneapolis, the second largest economy in the Midwest, Ellingrud increases operational efficiency, redesigns operating models and more. She’s active with accelerating gender equality via investments, and she works with women in STEM. Ellingrud, a Harvard graduate, worked for a not-for-profit organization that helped female entrepreneurs start their own businesses, and she created a microloan program for low-income women.

Moderator: Kweilin Ellingrud

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