GENDER INEQUALITY REARING ITS HEAD IN THE MIDST OF A “SHE-CESSION"

Updated: Jan 4

Introduction


Still suffering from what has been the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, the global labor market has reflected the pressures of the pandemic with unemployment rates nearing record highs. However, none have felt the extent of Covid-19’s impact more than women of the workforce. The unique circumstances of this recession has seen certain sectors affected disproportionately by the pandemic and its aftermath. With women bearing the brunt of the job losses, the current “she-cession” is poised to have consequences lasting far beyond the next few years.


Covid-19 Recession and Gender Inequality Amplified


What began as a few cases of Covid in early 2020 grew into a pandemic that nobody could have expected. With the strict measures that were put into place in Canada to contain the spread, it was pretty clear that lockdowns of indeterminate length, and the closing of borders was going to have major economic repercussions. At its peak in 2020, the Canadian unemployment rate rose to levels unseen in nearly 4 decades, the shutdown of many non-essential services and businesses left workers with no place to go.


This recession unlike any other has affected working women more so than the men in the labor market. Whereas historically, recessions have either been fairly equal in impact, or male dominant industries such as construction. This time the pandemic induced lockdowns impacted sectors that more heavily employed women, areas such as hospitality, education, and restaurants where women make-up a larger portion of the labor share were hit the hardest by lockdowns.


Inadvertently, the shutdown of schools and many childcare services created the need for additional parenting and at-home childcare forcing many women to leave their jobs without any option of remote working. The significant difference in the proportion of time women need to take off compared to men to provide this extra care has manifested itself in the unbalanced amount of women losing work compared to men....


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December, 2021

Kelvin Wu

Univeristy of Toronto Policython