Has the status of women under COVID-19 improved or regressed?

Shuo Feng

‘In September alone, there were about 865000 women dropped out of the labor market in the United States, compared with only 200000 men. Most of the reason is that the burden of care is too heavy for anyone else to share.

stated the Deputy Director-General of UN women, Anita Batia. She even declared disappointingly: ‘Everything we worked for, that has taken 25 years, could be lost in a year.(Lungumbu & Butterly, 2020)

Women’s status in the workplace

With the development of the society, the position of housework between men and women has changed. More and more women are entering the workplace when it came to the 21st century. Women spent less on the housework because they get more chances to work outside. And under the equal pay legislation, they can get equal pay with the men if they do the same job. So they took the responsibility of getting more payments for the family like the men. In addition, the education rate of women is increasing and there are more opportunities providing for women. Some of the women who have powerful leadership even joining the management in the companies. Overall, woman’s status in the workplace is improved even though there are some situations of inequality in the promotion and discrimination.

The change under COVID-19

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, there are some changes in woman’s status in the workplace. On the one hand, many people face the problem of being dismissed from companies because of the COVID-19 pandemic in American. The unemployment rate and the suicide rate increased sharply because of the economic downturn. Besides, women suffer more pressure than men because according to the Washington Post (Long & Dam, 2020) the unemployment rate of women was about 3% higher than that of men in the US under the Covid-19 in 2020. This indicates there were more women lose the job in the US in the pandemic period than the men. The women have to put more effort into the housework because it becomes difficult for them to get work in this period.

(source: Pexels )


The evidence from the UN

Bhatia said the COVID-19 could bring back the stereotype of women as ‘Housewives’ in the 1950s. The impact of the pandemic on female unemployment is known as ‘she-cession’. This means woman’s status is lower than in previous years, especially in the workplace. During the previous recession or financial crisis in the American, men are often hit harder because men dominated the manufacturing and construction industries (Antonopoulos, 2009). And the unemployment rate in these industries was often the first to bear the brunt. However, the situation of this pandemic is on the contrary. A higher proportion of women work in industries that are seriously affected by the pandemic, such as retail, leisure, reception, education, health and other fields. And when the company chooses to dismiss the women workers, it pays less damage than the men workers. Because only a small number of women can get the management position in the organizations. Hence, the women workers will suffer more unfair dismiss in the organization than men.

The nursing industry for female workers

However, some of the industries such as the nurses in this pandemic need more female workers. And in this global pandemic, woman’s power in the medical system cannot be ignored. For example, it is estimated the percentage of women work for the health care system is about 78% in the US (Drees, 2020). Besides that, there are more than 100000 female doctors and nurses in Hubei, accounting for more than 60% of the total. Among the nurses, 90% of them are female nurses (Mo et al., 2020). These women saved many lives in this pandemic. They afford the responsibility of the work and they are unselfish to help patients, and they even take the risk of getting infected. They are the patients’ nurses but more like their family members. All these women workers are prized by improvements of salary. The public should appreciate these female workers for continuing to work in their position. And with the social status of nurses get improved, it will attract more female workers in this industry.

(source: Pexels )


I think continuing to improve woman’s status in the world is important. After the COVID-19 pandemic, more women were forced to go back to become housewives again. This will not benefit the equality between women and men. However, the position of the nursing industry of women gets improved in this period and women show their power in this specific industry. Society should give more chances for female workers in other industries. In addition, all these phenomena show that gender inequality and unbalanced division of labor are the essences of the problem. In the post-pandemic-era, how to achieve gender equality in the workplace and family is a global common topic.


Reference list

Antonopoulos, R. (2009). The current economic and financial crisis: a gender perspective. Levy Economics Institute, Working Papers Series, (562).

Mo, P., Xing, Y., Xiao, Y., Deng, L., Zhao, Q., Wang, H., … & Zhang, Y. (2020). Clinical characteristics of refractory COVID-19 pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Clinical Infectious Diseases.


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