What is Happening with Women in our Workforce?

Our U.S. labor market is in an extraordinary predicament. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the rise and fall of unemployment and job openings. There is an employment gap of over five million workers. Many variables impact this situation, including the fact that many women who were forced to drop out of the labor market during the pandemic are still on the sidelines.

Women on the Sidelines

The number of women not in the labor force is almost three million higher than before the pandemic. According to a recent article from the Indianapolis Business Journal, “roughly 3.5 million mothers with school-age children either lost jobs, took leaves of absence or left the labor market altogether.” Looking for a career that can fit into a new sense of life-work balance has proven to be difficult for many women who thought this might just be a temporary break from the corporate world.

Besides childcare, experts point to other factors that have kept some women out of the workforce. The number of women who aren’t working because they are caring for sick relatives remains elevated. And surveys by the job listings website Indeed have found that many unemployed women are not searching very hard.

Women on the Field

Of the women who are working, the current statistics about their sentiment is eye-opening:

  • 87% of working women planned to stick with their employer this year, but just 66% said the same for 2022
  • 86% of senior women leaders intend to stay with employers this year. But only 68% said the same for 2022. Comparatively,72% of men senior leaders plan to remain with their employer in 2022.

What to do?

Companies may need to adjust policies and leadership strategies to keep women in the workforce.

Flexibility & Productivity: Flexibility in work hours and the ability to work from home is the most successful approach for companies to attract and retain women. When asked if the flexibility would extend past the pandemic, 95% of human resource executives report some or all elements would continue. 84% said they are retaining remote work options for their teams.

Studies illustrate that employers can increase a worker’s overall productivity by nearly 50 % with a flexible full-time contract vs. a full-time non-flexible contract. Research shows that 40% of the overall effect is attracting more productive workers. The other 60% is from motivating employees that take fewer breaks than those with non-flexible contracts.

Care for Your Own Company with Child Care: With companies offering signing bonuses and struggling to retain and hire employees, you might want to think about how you may be able to help with employees’ child care. Under the Internal Revenue Code Section 45F, the Employer-Provided Child Care Credit offers employers a tax credit of up to 25% of qualified child care expenditures and 10% of qualified child care resource and referral expenditures. Tax laws change all the time, so please check with professionals to confirm your eligibility.

Worrying About Women

Soteria HR can help you address your specific HR needs, including recruiting, retention, training, leadership development, and more. Please reach out to us here.


1) https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/08/economy/us-women-jobs-recovery/index.html

2) https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11300002

3) https://www.ibj.com/articles/citing-burnout-women-have-been-slow-to-return-to-u-s-workforce

James Harwood