“The 360” shows you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories and debates.
When the coronavirus outbreak first started to spread in the U.S., some referred to it as “the great equalizer” because of the health risk it posed to everyone. But that sentiment hasn’t been borne out over the course of the pandemic. Racial, economic and geographical factors have shown to play a major role in how severely different groups are affected.
Another determinant is gender. On the whole, men have experienced the bulk of the health impacts of the virus. As of last week, about 16,000 more men than women had died of COVID-19 in the U.S. Women, on the other hand, have felt a disproportionate amount of the economic pain during the recession caused by the virus.
Disparities that existed before the pandemic have been exacerbated by business closures and increased at-home responsibilities that have taken a larger toll on women. Women are more likely to work in industries that have struggled during the recession, such as hospitality, health care, education and retail. More women than men have cut back on their hours or left the workplace entirely to take care of their children, with schools and childcare centers closed in many parts of the country. In September alone, more than 617,000 women dropped out of the workforce, as opposed to just 78,000 men.
When women temporarily leave the workforce or take a lesser role, they often never catch up to their male counterparts. Experts fear that the professional setbacks women are experiencing right now could set the cause of gender equity in the workplace back for years or even decades.
Why there’s debate
There are ways to help women make up the ground they’ve lost during the pandemic, experts say — some