Back to school not normal for California moms

Women’s participation in the workforce has not been so low since 1988.

California, USA — This story was originally published by Cal Matters.. Leaeste artículoen Spanish..

As more students abandon virtual learning and return to classrooms in physical stores, the school grounds fill up again during breaks. But for many mothers who needed to reduce their work during the pandemic when their children were at home, returning to school did not mean returning to normal.

From business closures and loss of income to night shifts and medical delays, mothers have paid higher prices during the pandemic.

Brandy Brager is one of them. The CEO of five construction companies, she was like she was planning a year ahead. Now it’s every day. “My thinking about my career has changed,” said Brager, whose 10- and 12-year-old sons returned to school in San Jose almost full-time in late March. “I had to cut my salary. My business had to take a little backseat.”

According to the USC, 45.3% of working mothers living with their partners provide all care for their children at home, up from 33% before the pandemic. Research An analysis of survey responses from 3,100 US couples last fall found that only 8.7% of fathers were primary caregivers, both before and during the pandemic.

Gema Zamarro, a professor at the University of Arkansas and a senior economist at the USC Dornife Center for Economic and Social Studies and co-author of the study, said: the study.

Thousands of parents are still waiting for the California school to reopen safely. Despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s plans to fund $ 6.6 billion to support the school’s mission, most plans will only partially resume in the months leading up to the summer. For many mothers, just a few days at school without worrying about before and after class is not enough to get them back to normal.

Rachel Kristenson, two working mothers who lead a small sales training company in San Mateo, spent many nights trying to work from her phone while the children were sleeping next to her.

“It was just the default for me,” Kristenson recalled, and her husband “doesn’t offend him,” cooking as hard as he could for his family, but his “huge spreadsheet.” The “approach” must have failed. “In reality, I couldn’t make any kind of plan. It was just crisis management until you hit the bed,” she said, cutting her salary after her company didn’t make a profit last year. Said Kristenson.

Christenson’s son and daughter have been intermittently returning to Nueva School Hillsborough, a private school in Hillsboro, since November. But without most activities and childcare before and after school, she has a six-hour time frame for uninterrupted work, four days a week. “This is more than I had in a year, but if I have a meeting, I need to pick up my kid so I need to say I can’t do that There is, “said Kristenson. “Children are back in school, but there is definitely parental punishment.”

Pandemic is expanding existing California Gender wage gap.. According to a survey of more than 1,000 American parents conducted by management software company Qualtrics last summer, men are twice as likely to work from home as women to have a positive impact on their careers. Among working fathers, one in three was promoted compared to less than one in ten working mothers.

“We were in this debilitating situation before COVID, and now it’s getting worse,” said Betsy Butler, secretary general of the California Women’s Law Center. “It can have a huge impact on the country’s recovery.”

Women in senior management, toddler mothers, working mothers, colored mothers, especially black mothers, are very likely to have burned out and pressured to work more than men since the pandemic began. is. , by the study From management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Emerald Archer, director of the Women’s Promotion Center at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, said:

Many, like Brager and Kristenson, had enough flexibility and resources to stay employed despite the virtual school, but low-income mothers faced even greater challenges during the blockade. .. Many were forced to quit their jobs altogether.

For the first time in the history of the US recession, women lost more jobs than men and dropped out of the workforce. According to the National Women’s Justice Center, more than 2.3 million women stopped looking for jobs last year, and women’s participation in the workforce has not been significant since 1988.

California last week enacted an additional paid sick leave of up to two weeks, which applies retroactively. However, for many mothers, recovering lost income and getting their careers back on track is a priority, and even partial reopening of school can help.

Jenna Biliński, a 4-year-old registered nurse at her home in San Francisco, had to hire a nanny full-time, a costly operation. “If the school is open, she will go,” said Biliński about the local kindergarten at Flynn Elementary School.

However, schools are not a safe haven for all moms. According to USC Zamarro, color families are more likely to choose virtual schools face-to-face than white parents, and black and Latina women suffer from the largest decline in workforce participation. For some, worry about the virus, which is disproportionately affecting black and Latino families, is enough to keep children home. For others, distrust of children’s schools is driving the decision, Zamaro said.

Meanwhile, black and Latina women are also most likely owners of child care centers, with thousands out of business as a result of the pandemic. Over 8,500 child care centers closed during the pandemicOn behalf of tens of thousands of children, it puts pressure on parents who have to work further.

“We need fair policies to help families overcome this crisis, whether schools are open or not,” said Sharon, a senior staff member at Legal Aid Atwork who was caring for a sick child while working from home. Terman said. “Our workplace policy does not meet the needs of most families, especially families and people of color. Pandemics have been added to women’s shoulders.”

This article is part of California divide, A collaboration between newsrooms investigating income inequality and financial survival in California.

CALmatters.org is a non-profit, non-partisan media venture that explains California’s policies and politics.

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