Episode 278
Sep 15, 2020

Coronavirus is pushing women out of work

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We are doing the work of governments. And "we" mostly means "women."

This house is not a home, not anymore. With so many schools and workplaces closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many family homes are now an office, a school and a day care center.

“This is an untenable situation that families are somehow managing to make work,” said Washington University sociology professor Caitlyn Collins. “And when I say ‘families,’ what I really mean is ‘mothers.'”

Six months into this pandemic, we have data showing mothers with young children are taking on a disproportionate amount of the extra work at home and working fewer hours at their jobs as a consequence. For those women’s careers, Collins said, it can mean death by a thousand cuts.

On today’s show, we’ll talk with Collins about women dropping out of the workforce, the ripple effects that could have years down the line and what we (and ahem, our workplaces) can do about it.

Later, we’ll hear how a few of our listeners are coping with exactly this problem, and Bill Gates (!) answers the Make Me Smart Question.

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Here’s some additional reading and everything else we talked about today:

Clarification (Sept. 16, 2020): A previous version of this post mischaracterized the findings on the gender gap in work hours.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer