Trends Newsletter March 2022
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It's been a media-filled year about women in the workforce. More women are in charge. More women have said—"I quit" (exclamation point). Many women are struggling under a system never designed to support them. Women are not the country's social safety net. Covid has exposed the risks in treating them as such.
Have women's lives improved since the Women's Lib Movement began 60 years ago? Some. More women than men now hold a college degree. Despite legislation, pay for the same work often remains unequal. Behind every 'successful man' of the 60s and 70s was a woman. Today, it's difficult to find a man that's acceptable marriage material much less willing to provide 24/7 support. Increasing numbers of women elect to forgo marriage and children (only 42% of today's women are married; add another 20% who tried); population growth is less than 1% a year. The number of nuclear families declines.
The US Department of Labor reports that 47 million people quit their job in 2021; women were more likely than men to quit. Women without a college degree, and women with children, are among the most likely to have left the workforce. Low-paying service industries are hit hardest; jobs are now wanting for people desperate enough to work for hourly wages that cannot sustain a reasonable standard of living. Teachers and nurses—two women-intensive professional occupations—were classified as essential during Covid; apparently women in all other sectors were not—essential that is. The glory of being essential heroes was short-lived. As more and more women found themselves juggling work, family, household management, and children's home education needs, while navigating food and packaged goods shortages under enforced isolation, many women became ringmasters in their own circus. If at all possible, or out of sheer necessity, the resounding response to the pressure is—I quit! This is not about equal pay. "I quit" is a cry for help! Women's mental and physical health hang in the balance. Drug and alcohol abuse are rising as is violence against women. Let's tell it like it is. Have you ever heard "a man ask for advice about how to combine a marriage and a career?" (Gloria Steinhem) This isn't about work-life balance. When women have to do it all there is no hope of balance.
Women's workforce participation is in decline across all major occupational sectors. Between 2018 and 2020, MacroMonitor data report roughly 2.3 million women have left the Professional/Technical sector (1.8 million teachers alone); about 2 million Managers/Administrators and 1.7 million Pink-Collar workers. Some women who have quit will not rejoin the workforce. Some took retirement. Others are no longer willing to work in unfulfilling, sometimes abusive, and generally underappreciated jobs that do not contribute meaningfully to anything other than unshared profit. Pocketbook economics suggest questions about why consumer prices are rising in a year of unprecedented corporate profits and astronomical CEO pay. (The average CEO today makes roughly 202 times more than the average employee.) A modestly bigger paycheck doesn't line up with a sense of fair play.
It's not just discretionary funds for saving and investing that many women lack, it's TIME. This lack cannot be overstated. Check the average hours spent by men and by women on various household responsibilities from the American Time Use Study series between 2003 and 2019 (the most recent data available). Covid will likely change the numbers dramatically; not in womens' favor. Women continue to spend significantly more time than men do on household activities, child and pet care, consumer purchases, and yes, even financial matters. However, fewer than one-fifth of women think managing financial affairs is something like an enjoyable hobby; a puzzle—perhaps?
If you wonder why some women aren't more interested in your latest offer, ask yourself when they might find the time to do the research. Faced with a choice between fixing or arranging dinner (so children don't live on Cheerios) and doing laundry (so that the family has clean underwear tomorrow), or reading up on your newest technology-infused offer that's supposed to save them time, which do you think they are likely to choose? My guess is dinner, laundry, and a glass of wine (while staring out the window at a nearly empty street) worrying about sparsely-stocked grocery-store shelves and inflation.
Never have women's intelligence, talents, determination, and skills been needed more than they are today. Our country is suffering and will continue to suffer because of their absence.
Be an antidote. In addition to supporting efforts that enable more women to get back to work and live decent lives, offer them true time savings. Try offering women real value; no customer should be viewed as a profit center alone—be obvious as to why they're a 'valued' customer. Be transparent about costs; women have been ripped off for years by greedy retailers. Give them a reason to trust you more than they trust Macy's 50%-off sales.
Learn more about women, starting with behaviors and attitudes. Have a thought-provoking conversation about where women might go from here. Contact us and schedule a call. Explore: Women's Achievements 2021 to Present.
Additional deliverables are available to MacroMonitor subscribers:
- The March 2022 Stories: Women Are Resilient
- The underlying data set for this month's Stories (by request).