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Dr. Susan Madsen: How the Pandemic is Affecting Women in Utah and What Local Government & Orgs Can Do About It

Posted By Regional Development
March 18, 2021

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Dr. Susan Madsen, director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project at Utah State University, spoke to Salt Lake County COVID-19 economic recovery work group on Wednesday about the impact of the pandemic on women — and women in Utah. 

The Data

Dr. Madsen presented a significant amount of national data, including from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

1 in 4 (26.6%) women are worse off financially than they were a year ago
 
40% of women have stopped working or reduced their hours because of care-taking demands since the start of the pandemic
 
Almost half of women (47.7%) are worried about having enough money to pay bills

Women of Color

29.8% of Latinas report their family finances are worse off compared to the start of 2020
 
66% of Latinas reported worry about having enough income to meet family expenses

"Everybody who is vulnerable is more vulnerable. Everything that is unequal is more unequal..." said Claudia Geist, associate dean for research in the U of U's School for Cultural and Social Transformation.

Concerns

An exacerbated childcare crisis. Utah was already ranked as one of the three worst states in the U.S. for lack of access to licensed care. Women have consistently listed this as a top challenge and concern amid the pandemic, with additional childcare or homeschooling responsibilities.

Progress in women's careers from the past 5 years erased. Women are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. Two million more have reported to be considering leave of absence or leaving their jobs altogether. All of this could translate into fewer women staying on track to be future leaders.

Burnout/Mental Health/Anxiety — These three challenges have also been among the biggest for women during the pandemic.

What Governments & Organizations Can Do

  1. Initiate public policy
  2. Set an example in words and actions
    • Shift policies and programs to meet employee needs
    • Are you taking a look at performance reviews?
    • Increase healthcare coverage
    • Take steps to minimize gender bias
    • Improve economic conditions
  3. Engage in childcare conversations
    • Make work more sustainable
    • Focus on shifting norms around flexibility
    • Expand paid leave
  4. Raise awareness and provide education
    • Understand research, resources and training already available
    • Implement effective diversity, equity, inclusion efforts
    • Continue offering women's professional development

View the entire presentation and data Dr. Madsen shared with us. Expect more Utah data to be released by the Utah Women & Leadership Institute in early April! You can learn more about women and girls in Utah at utwomen.org.