Balancing Act: How to end disproportionate job loss for women

In December 2020, the United States lost 140,000 jobs. Women accounted for 100% of the lost jobs. Diving deeper into the government jobs report, women actually lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000 new jobs in December (resulting a net loss of 140,000 jobs).

When the pandemic began, women held 50% of the jobs in America (which was a rare high for women in the workforce). Overall job loss since February 2020 includes one million more job losses by women than by men. The impact of the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in the workforce.

Perhaps this is due to traditional gender roles, which place women as caregivers for family members much more frequently than men. At the same time, women (particularly African American and Latina women) are more likely to be in jobs lacking paid sick leave or flexibility for working from home. COVID-19 has only deepened the inequality divide as many women have been forced to drop out of the workforce to educate their children from home and also care for ill and elderly family members.

Financially this made sense for many families. Today in America, a woman makes on average only 80 cents for every dollar that a man makes in the same job. In Michigan it is worse – women earn 73 cents for every dollar males are paid in the same job. Keeping the larger paycheck to better support a family meant that it was women exiting the workforce instead of men.

Further, the economic downturn affected job sectors that are dominated by women including education, hospitality and retail jobs (particularly clothing and accessories stores). These industries suffered great economic impact from the pandemic causing job losses. Many of these jobs will not be returning.

So how do we fix the disproportionate job loss impact to women?

Today, only 26% of women hold high-tech positions. To bridge this divide, corporations must address the inequality gap by hiring and promoting qualified women to jobs traditionally held by men.

Education is key to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in technology. In order to do this, our educators need to continue their strong programs such as Newton’s Road to encourage students including girls to pursue careers in math and science.

Women need to see that jobs retraining programs exist to give them a path to enter the field of technology. Girls need to look at a technology company and see faces that look “like me” in its ranks, to imagine the possibilities, go for their dreams and achieve their full potential.

The solution also lies in creating sustainable year-round high paying technology jobs here in northern Michigan. We need to prioritize building the local TC tech scene to include more than one major employer, so that lateral career moves are possible. Without more than one tech employment option in our community, we will not attract tech talent to our region – after all, why move your family here if you would only have to move again should your current employment position not work out?

While working remotely to Silicon Valley is increasingly possible while living in Traverse City, we want to build our northern Michigan tech industry to continue to attract the best minds in the world to our business community. We want our tech industry businesses to thrive and create new high-paying jobs to give job security to our region, increase dollars spent in our local services industries and downtown storefronts, and build the pool of talent and resources donated to our nonprofits.

The solution lies in the tech industry hiring women. Women are still considered diversity hires in high-tech. I led Naveego as the only known woman CEO in big data in North America. With Naveego’s acquisition by Aunalytics, a data platform company founded in South Bend, Indiana, I am excited to join a team that has more women in tech and more women in tech leadership than most companies in our industry.

I am excited to continue to grow the Traverse City location of Aunalytics, continue to create new, high-paying technology jobs for our local economy, and help mid-market business grow and thrive here at home and in the Midwest.

Katie Horvath is VP of marketing and communication at Aunalytics.