Above all, however, issues related to childcare and work management, long considered private family affairs, suddenly came to light, turning the needs of working parents into a theme that resonated in conference rooms and country capitals across the country.
The potential consequences were profound: not only could a pandemic help re-calibrate the answer to a question such as, “Who takes a sick child out of school?” But it could also radically change whether jobs look askance at a parent who takes the time to do so. of works. More fundamentally, any number of pandemic-inspired policy ideas, if implemented, could make it easier for working parents, especially women, to reconcile work and childcare, as well as increase gender equality in the workplace and at home, and change established gender norms. about care.
“It seems like an Overton window where you have increased public dialogue, but you have the public will to really change and reflect on women’s experiences in the workforce,” C. Nicole Mason, president and executive director of the Women’s Policy Research Institute, said in interview this summer.
About half of mothers with children under 18 years of age were full-time employees last year. For white-collar workers and women with office services, who were more likely to benefit from increased work flexibility, the possible reforms were uniquely promising.
But optimism is fading, in part because of Washington. Biden’s administration and congressional Democrats said earlier this year that federal paid family and medical leave was a priority for the president’s domestic spending package – but the plan was shortened from 12 weeks to four weeks and then dropped altogether. frame President Biden. published on Thursday.
“As you can see, the window is closing,” Dr. said last week. Mason.
Now that the pandemic is receding and everyday life is returning to normal, some working mothers are worried that nothing much will change.
“People are finally seeing how important childcare is in our society,” said Kristen Shockley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia who studies the intersection of work and family life. “Will this mean that our society values care? I’m less optimistic about that. “