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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

About 1 million working mothers have stopped working during the pandemic, and more could follow.

Staggering stat: 23% of women with kids under the age of 10 are considering leaving the workforce, compared with 13% of men, according to a McKinsey survey.

There's a slew of reasons why balancing work and parenting is hitting mothers harder than fathers.

  • Women spend an average of five more hours on child care and chores per week than men, per a report from scholars at London Business School and Harvard Business School.
  • And many teleworking women have had to give up their house's one home office to their husbands — forcing them to work in less-than-ideal spaces, adding to stress and chipping away at productivity.

But it's not just what's happening in the home. There are dynamics at work that hurt women more than men, Ashley Whillans of Harvard Business School and Grant Donnelly of Ohio State University write in the Wall Street Journal.

  • Women are likelier than their male colleagues to take on administrative tasks, which means they're often saddled with urgent deadlines rather than work they can complete on a flexible schedule.
  • And women are less likely than male colleagues to request deadline extensions at work, per new research from Whillans and Donnelly.
    • They looked at a group of college students studying business and found that the men were "nearly twice as likely" as the women to ask for an extension on a big assignment.
    • "Students who asked for an extension received grades that were 8.2% higher, on average. Because of their hesitation to ask for more time, female students’ performance suffered," the researchers write.

The bottom line: Working parents represent a whopping third of the U.S. workforce — and companies need to address burnout to retain this talent.

  • Strategies that can help include setting company-wide policies for deadline extensions, so everyone feels comfortable asking for the time they need, Whillans and Donnelly note.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 25, 2021 - Sports

U.S. Soccer president: “We’re on the same side” as USWNT on equal pay

Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Axios spoke with Cindy Parlow Cone, the president of U.S. Soccer (and former USWNT star), about the ongoing CBA negotiations and equal pay lawsuit.

There's a lot going on right now. Where do things stand at the U.S. Soccer Federation?

Nov 20, 2021 - Sports

Player empowerment is key to the future of U.S. women's pro soccer

The Orlando Pride Starting XI prior to a game between NJ/NY Gotham City FC and Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

When the National Women's Soccer League erupted into controversy this season over a slew of assault allegations, the future of the league — and more broadly, U.S. women’s professional soccer — looked uncertain.

Why it matters: The U.S. has had three women's professional soccer leagues in two decades, with the first two each lasting just three seasons. But the NWSL may be on a different path, sports analysts and former players say. That is, if the league and its teams put players' demands and concerns front and center.

Nov 25, 2021 - Sports

Exclusive: More Americans can name USWNT player than USMNT player

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Momentive poll; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

No matter how you slice it, more Americans can name at least one player on the USWNT than on the USMNT, per a recent Axios/Momentive poll.

By the numbers: Overall, 32% of the 2,689 respondents could name at least one USWNT member, while 26% could name at least one USMNT member.