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Shecession – a national emergency

Along with masks, social distancing and toilet paper shortages, the pandemic has spawned lots of new words like Quaranteam, Zooming and Coronacoaster. Another one of those new words is Shecession — a nickname for the current economic downturn, which is disproportionately affecting working women. Especially women of color.

Just last week, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that in the past year the pandemic has put at risk decades of progress made by women workers. Already, 2.5 million women have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic, and Harris is calling that a “national emergency.”

As the pandemic drags on, the statistics for women are bleak. Female employment began plummeting almost immediately once the coronavirus took hold last spring. Women of color and women without a college education have been disproportionately affected. A report, published by the Brookings Institution, showed that nearly half of all working women have low-paying jobs. Those jobs are more likely to be held by Black or Latina women, and they are in sectors, such as dining and travel, that are among the least likely to return to normal anytime soon. Women also are more likely to take on the role of primary caregiver, so with kids or younger siblings home from school and elderly parents isolated, women assume a greater burden.

Despite those challenges, this is not the time to give up! Here are some ideas to prevent the door on your career from slamming shut while weathering the pandemic:

  • Leverage social media while the ‘social’ in your life remains on lock-down. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, build one now. Reach out to former colleagues, mentors or teachers and ask if they would consider writing you a recommendation that highlights some of your skills and experiences.
  • Lend a hand – volunteer. While volunteering is sure to help someone else, it can also be good for you. Helping others is a proven spirit-lifter. It also offers you with more experiences to include in your LinkedIn profile, your resume, or a college application. And your willingness to lend a hand may also get you noticed by a potential employer.
  • Connect monthly with a mentor. Set up a regular Facetime call with a mentor or someone you admire professionally or academically. Ask them to share experiences from the most challenging times during their career and tips for how they survived. Use them as a sounding board to help maintain perspective on your personal situation. Read more about finding a mentor.
  • Take it virtual – Attend virtual job fairs and networking events and arrange informational interviews with new connections.

They say, “misery loves company” and there is certainly a whole lotta hurt in the world right now. But staying connected with others is a great way to weather the storm and improve your chances of successfully returning to your own pre-pandemic world.

Question: How have you stayed connected during the pandemic?

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