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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're starting to see evidence of the coronavirus' erosion of women's workplace gains: 865,000 American women left the labor force in September, compared with 216,000 men.

Why it matters: Many of the women dropping out hold senior-level positions at companies, and their exit from the workforce means the already-abysmal representation of women in leadership at U.S. firms will get even worse.

  • Before the pandemic, women held 28% of senior vice president roles and 21% of C-suite roles, per a new report from McKinsey and Lean In.
  • Now 1 in 4 women in these top positions are thinking of leaving their jobs, compared with 1 in 6 men in such roles, the report notes.
  • "We could unwind the progress of the last five years and perhaps beyond," says Alexis Krivkovich, a senior partner at McKinsey and a co-author of the report. "The four-alarm fire is the fact that this issue is acute for senior women."

One big driver of this troubling trend is the pandemic's child care crisis, Krivkovich says.

  • 76% of mothers with children under age 10 say child care has been among their top three challenges during the pandemic, compared with 54% of fathers, writes Axios' Fadel Allassan.
  • As dual-income households around the country decide that one parent needs to stay home with the kids, moms are typically the ones to leave their jobs.

But there's reason to believe the pandemic will actually benefit working women in the long run."The No. 1 thing women historically would cite as the thing that would most help them gain prominence in their career is flexibility," says Krivkovich.And now — seven months into working from home — firms are thinking about adding more flexibility into the workweek.

  • 93% say they are open to a remote/in-person hybrid future, and 91% say they will reduce business travel for employees.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

Women's unemployment crisis revealed

Data: LISEP; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The true unemployment rate for women isn't going down, as official statistics suggest. In fact, it's going up — at least according to the most recent analysis of official data from LISEP, the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity.

By the numbers: The LISEP definition of "true unemployment" includes anybody who's looking for a full-time job paying a living wage, but who hasn't been able to find one. By that metric, 30.9% of American women were unemployed in November — an increase of 0.5% from the October figure.

Dec 16, 2020 - Economy & Business

A year of monumental change in the workplace

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In less than a year, the pandemic shot us more than a decade ahead in the workplace transformation.

The big picture: The pandemic's acceleration of telecommuting has changed much more than the way we attend meetings. We'll see lasting impacts on company culture, the job market, demographics and cities.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.