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Remote Work Is Drawing Women—But More Are Needed

Remote work is showing signs of boosting the flagging number of women in the workforce, but it may be doing so at a cost to women’s career advancement, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s happening: “Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin said a potential downside to women working from home more than men is that they could isolate themselves as a group. Dr. Goldin likened a scenario in which female employees work exclusively at home to that of part-time work, which economic studies have shown hurt workers’ wages, retirement savings and career prospects.”

  • A McKinsey Global Institute director told the Journal she is concerned that when more workplaces reopen, the majority of those going back to in-person jobs will be “men without caregiving responsibilities,” and they will be the employees who get promotions.

Still, lots of pluses: Mothers in particular benefit from the increased flexibility of remote work.

  • “High-income jobs in finance, law, consulting and engineering that once demanded frequent travel and long hours are now easier for women to take, thanks to technology.”
  • The main reasons cited by currently unemployed women for not returning to work following the pandemic were employed partners and child care responsibilities.

Serious about remote work: Nearly 40% of women polled in a recent economist-led survey said they would start looking for other work if required to return to their workplaces five days a week, according to the Journal.

Participation still down: “The number of women aged 25 to 54 in the labor force has increased from pandemic lows, but was still about half a million below the pre-pandemic February 2020 level last month, according to the Labor Department.”

What could be: If the U.S. increased its female labor-force participation level to that of other developed economies, GDP could see a boost of nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, according to a Moody’s analysis.

The last word: “Women’s workforce losses since the pandemic are reflective of the challenges of domestic and care responsibilities,” said Manufacturing Institute Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion AJ Jorgensen.

  • “That more flexible work arrangements are drawing women back into the workforce means manufacturers have the opportunity to attract more women. That’s why the MI is working with manufacturers on our new 35×30 campaign, which aims to increase women’s percentage of the manufacturing workforce to 35% by 2030.” 
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