Sidelined Again: How the Government Abandoned Working Women Amidst a Global Pandemic

35 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2021

See all articles by Jessica Fink

Jessica Fink

California Western School of Law

Date Written: April 8, 2021

Abstract

Among the weaknesses within American society exposed by the COVID pandemic, almost none has emerged more starkly than the government’s failure to provide meaningful and affordable childcare to working families – and, in particular, to working women. As the pandemic unfolded in the spring of 2020, state and local governments shuttered schools and daycare facilities and directed nannies and other babysitters to “stay at home.” Women quickly found themselves filling this domestic void, providing the overwhelming majority of childcare, educational support for their children, and management of household duties, often to the detriment of their careers. As of March 2021, more than 5 million American women had lost their jobs, with 2.3 million women no longer even looking for work. Countless other women continue to struggle with the unsustainable demands of performing their paid jobs while simultaneously providing close to full time domestic services at home. On all of these metrics, women of color have found themselves even more acutely affected.

Importantly, this need not have been the case: With a reasonable amount of planning and expense, federal, state, and local governmental resources could have been mobilized to create a solution to this crisis. By establishing and providing funding for “learning pods” throughout the country, the government could have served the needs of countless working families (especially working mothers) by filling this childcare void, while also providing employment assistance to a host of other workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic. In fact, the government could have turned to its own experience – providing childcare to working mothers during World War II and continuing to operate high-quality and affordable childcare for military families today – to deliver this type of childcare assistance to all families currently in need. In declining to do so, the government not only has exacerbated the COVID crisis for innumerable working families, but also has further relegated women to the professional sidelines – a decision destined to have immeasurable and long-term consequences for millions of working women, for the organizations that employ them, and for society as a whole.

Suggested Citation

Fink, Jessica, Sidelined Again: How the Government Abandoned Working Women Amidst a Global Pandemic (April 8, 2021). Utah Law Review, Forthcoming 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3822015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3822015

Jessica Fink (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-525-1452 (Phone)

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