Women Leaving the Workforce

The coronavirus pandemic has seen women, particularly in leadership positions exit the workforce for numerous reasons. As a result, companies will face severe effects in terms of revenue or profits and gender disparity. This other research takes a deeper look into COVID-19 and women in the workforce. Check it out! Also, discover how U.S. federal and state governments are supporting employees during the coronavirus pandemic.


  • According to an analysis conducted by the National Women’s Law Center for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 865,000 women left the labor force between August and September 2020.
  • More so, one in four women is planning to reduce working hours or move to part-time roles, taking leaves of absence, switching from managerial positions to less demanding roles, or stepping away from the workforce indefinitely.
  • Women in America have over the years made significant strides in the workforce and occupying prestige positions or the C-suite in their pursuit for career success. However, the COVID-19 pandemic risks have posed a threat to this progress as it is undoing many of these gains and progresses in months, and, likely, a generation of women, especially in managerial positions, may never fully recover.
  • An article published by the CNBC provides that between 2015 and 2020, the share of women in the C-suite, has grown exponentially. In particular, senior vice president roles in Fortune500 companies has significantly grown from 23% to 28%, while the overall share of women in C-suite roles has grown from 17% to 21% over the past 5 years. The impact of the pandemic has however threatened to deconstruct this progress, as women have been alarmingly leaving the workforce at a fast rate since the lockdown was enacted, most of them citing burnout and childcare.
  • “This is the most alarming report we’ve ever seen,” Facebook’s chief operating officer and Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg says. “I think what’s happening is this report confirms what people have suspected, but we haven’t really had the data, which is that the coronavirus is hitting women incredibly hard and really risks undoing the progress we’ve made for women in the workforce.”
  • Despite Fortune500 companies making progress in equalizing gender disparity in executive positions, it is likely that this progress will be deconstructed as senior-level career women continue to step out of the workforce or taking less demanding roles or downshifting in their careers.
  • An article published by Fortune provides that senior-level women especially in Fortune500 companies are tough, ambitious and tested. However, these women are being pushed to their limits, especially with the COVID-19 breakout, which has catalyzed the mass exodus of women in managerial positions from the workforce citing “burnout.” The mass exodus of C-suite women from the workforce poses a risk to companies as these women bring economic and social benefits to companies. Studies indicate that companies with more women in leadership positions are likely to perform better and have better work cultures. Compared to their male counterparts, women in executive positions are likely to raise and lobby for better workplace implementations, such as work/life flexibility, gender disparity and equal pay. More so, executive women are likely to mentor, inspire, and sponsor other women, especially in junior positions.
  • Studies reveal that the number of top 500 US companies with executive women employees saw their revenue climb to 37 in 2020, a bump from 33 in 2019. Today, women in the C-suite account for 7.4% of Fortune 500 companies; a significant improvement from 2010 where only 15 women CEOs made the list. In 2018 when there were only 24 women in executive positions in the US. Even though the data still indicates that there is a long way to go as far as achieving gender equity in the C-suite is concerned, the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened this progress as more women continue to exit the workforce.
  • An article published by Harvard Business Review provides that the coronavirus pandemic has continued to threaten executive women’s careers. Thus, companies risk losing female talent, which could pose an irreparable long-term talent problem, especially in addressing gender parity. The article further provides that if these companies fail to address the exodus of executive women from the workforce in time, they may incur damages and may take a while to leverage lost female talent to leverage their capabilities now and in the future.
  • If executive women continue to exit the workforce with the ongoing economic crisis, it could have immense repercussions on not only the revenue of companies but also the strides companies have made in trying to balance gender disparity in recent years, particularly exacerbating pay and promotion gaps. Other than burnout, many women in executive positions are leaving the workforce for child-care reasons.
  • Executive women exiting the workforce highly affects gender-inclusive companies, which have been privileged to integrate more diverse perspectives into people, products and business decisions. A lack of diversity especially in executive positions will affect businesses socially and revenue-wise, as studies show that organizations with women leaders realized 76% greater profitable growth over a five-year period.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

COVID-19 and Women in the Workforce

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