The pandemic magnified pre-existing obstacles to women's full and equitable participation in the workforce, including the unequal distribution of household labor, a persistent gender wage gap, hard-to-afford child care and the lack of paid leave. Lockdowns and social distancing gutted the sectors women are most likely to work in, such as retail and hospitality. At the same time, child care availability decreased, driving up its already expensive cost. The result: a “shecession” in which 5.4 million women exited the workforce, many to take care of their children. Amid the pandemic, however, many employers pivoted to more flexible and family-friendly working arrangements. President Biden introduced legislation intended to improve women's labor force participation, in part by providing more affordable child care. Experts say it will not ...

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