In the beginning of 2020 I had been at a new job for just barely three months. It was one that I had been applying to for quite some time and my training ended right in the middle of the 2019 holiday season. The benefits of my new employment were ones my family would use constantly, and I knew that even with it being a part-time position, it was one that would pay off. Three months into 2020, as coronavirus swept the United States, I walked out of my office doors and I have not been back since. As a mom of two, with children that would now be home for the entire day, I had no choice but to leave the job that I had waited to get for so long. This is the reality for many, many other women, too.
From spring 2020 to the present day, millions of employees have left their job as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave lasting effects on businesses the world over. This past September, a record high 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, 1 in 4 American employees have quit their jobs in the past year. And of course while things like work conditions, quarantine and mental health have caused people to reevaluate who they are working for, the “Great Resignation” is — by no surprise — fueled by women. Moms all over the United States have been forced to quit their jobs because, as usual, our country can’t get it together.
To be sure, there are likely many reasons that employees have left their 9-5 jobs over the past several months. In the early days of the pandemic, many were unsatisfied with the working conditions. Some employers, possibly not understanding the reality of the severity of the virus, did not have appropriate protocols in place to protect their workers. This caused many to reconsider the type of work that they were willing to do. Others decided that traditional employment was no longer for them. And a lot of people were just overworked, and flat out tired. Many women, moms in particular, were left with no choice but to leave.
About 1 in 3 moms have left their jobs since the pandemic started, according to a survey by Seramount, a consulting firm that focuses on workplace inclusion. And while it would be nice to be able to accredit those decisions to soul-searching during quarantine or realizing they deserve better in the workplace, this is not the case. Mothers are leaving their jobs because they have nowhere to put their kids.
When schools all over the country switched to a remote learning only model over a year ago, moms were suddenly tasked with putting on yet another hat. In addition to being employees, caregivers, and nurturers, we became students all over again. While navigating the pandemic and our own work responsibilities outside of our families, we had to relearn Zoom, Google Classroom, Nearpod and a host of other online learning platforms. It is a well known (and unfortunate) fact that the majority of the time, moms take on the primary responsibility of caring for their children. This means that with ALL of our children home, many moms had to make the decision to stay home as well. Working a remote job while juggling remote learning proved to be difficult for some, if not impossible, due to many of the jobs requiring no background noise or the inevitable interruptions that come from having your kids at home. And with not all jobs able to switch to remote positions (healthcare and retail for example), voluntary resignation was a choice that many had to make.
Today, with vaccination rates on the rise and many schools open again, one would think that women would be able to return to work, but that is not the case for many. Moms of younger children, for example, are still facing a daycare shortage. This was a problem that existed long before the pandemic — but the virus, along with staffing issues, accelerated the closure of hundreds of daycare facilities. There are also still temporary school closures due to exposure, quarantines, and children not being allowed into their buildings even with the common cold (due to many of the symptoms mirroring those of COVID). With the constant uncertainty of our day to day schedules, it is almost impossible for some to return to their jobs with confidence.
In the future when we are talking about the Great Resignation, let’s not forget about the moms who — once again — sacrificed to make it happen for their families. We are the unseen heroes.