As organizations across our campus and our country recognize Women’s History Month, we can’t just reflect on the past; we need to address present issues affecting women. One of today’s most urgent issues, COVID-19, has wreaked havoc on women in the global workforce, sending progress for gender equality several steps backward. The pandemic has hurt every community, including Ithaca, and Cornellians can’t turn a blind eye to the needs of the place we call home. This Women’s History Month, support an essential local organization, the Ithaca Women’s Opportunity Center, by contributing to a campus-wide fundraiser.
Last November, the Cornell Panhellenic Council and the Women’s Leadership Initiative at Cornell hosted a discussion on the pandemic’s impact for working women. During the event Mekala Krishnan, a partner at McKinsey Global Institute, explained that one reason for the exacerbated inequality between job losses for women and men was the gender specific nature of their work. Through her research, she discussed how jobs held by women are 19 percent more at risk than ones held by men simply because women are disproportionately represented in sectors negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
This risk is even higher for women of color. In September alone, four times as many women dropped out of the labor force, which equaled around 865,000 women to 216,000 men.