The amount of women leaving the workforce is staggering. According to CNBC over 2.3 million women have left the workforce since the onset of COVID-19. As a woman in the workforce, I am all too familiar for the reasons why. The reasons can include one or more of the following: added childcare/household duties, inaccessible/unsafe/unaffordable childcare, the fact that women make 81 cents for every dollar men make which in turn can force the woman to leave the workforce when a couple has to choose and so many other reasons. These reasons often compound upon one another making it even more stressful and necessary to commit to ONE thing. Because we are back to the days where you have to choose between your children or your job? AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!
The stats are real. Women are suffering. We are under the full weight of a year of this pandemic and we cannot ignore the effects of the cumulating stress and trauma. So what does this look like for the “involved” fathers? I have seen fathers experiencing a bias that is rooted in the same bias forcing women out of the workforce. I have seen men forced to meet if not exceed the productivity that they had prior to the pandemic. As if they have nothing going on at home. This is all well and good for the fathers who think taking care of their children is called “babysitting” or that their partner’s career is “less important” because they make less money. But change will not come if we don’t recognize the fathers that are in the battle with us and encourage the fathers that aren’t in the battle, to get in there with us. This must come from all stakeholders (employers, government, friends, family, schools/childcare facilities, etc.).
It cannot be expected that fathers will continue to meet pre-pandemic productivity because their wives will pick up the childcare and household slack. This not only causes stress on fathers but also perpetuates the reasons why women are leaving the workforce. It is insulting to partnerships built on equality. It ignores the decisions made by couples about education, career, childcare, family size, student loan debt, etc. In my own experience, almost 20 years of cumulative decisions were made as a couple that did not prepare us for my partner being the breadwinner and me being the stay-at-home Mom. Luckily, no one in this partnership has had to leave the workforce. Expecting a father to be free at any moment for an assignment or meeting dismisses the idea that they are also having yoga blocks thrown at their head during a zoom meeting (true story), wiping butts during a call (also a true story, lol!) and prepping lunch for the kiddos in between work tasks. So this is my fight song for the Pappas out there embracing the chaos with us Mommas. We are in this TOGETHER and I see you!