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Millions of Women Lost Jobs in 2020 — Here’s How They’re Coming Back

Source | | Ross Murray

The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for women in the workforce. Millions lost or left their jobs, and a recent analysis revealed that while men in the United States gained about 16,000 net jobs in December 2020, women lost a net total of 156,000 jobs.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, let’s explore what our data can tell us about COVID’s impact on working women and what companies can do to empower them. “LinkedIn’s data from around the world tells a consistent story,” says Karin Kimbrough, LinkedIn’s chief economist. “Women’s hiring has proven to be more vulnerable than men’s, and COVID-19 has likely had a more damaging impact on women’s careers.” 

Today, we’ll take a closer look at that data to see how the pandemic impacted women in the workplace overall — and how it impacted some women more than others, with some stark disparities across different industries and education levels. Along the way, we’ll consider what it all means for your hiring strategy and how your company can support women every day of the year. 

The gender split of new hires returned to pre-COVID levels, but the recovery still has a long way to go

If you look at the gender split of new hires, you’ll notice the share of women dropped dramatically near the start of the pandemic. “Right away, we saw a dip in the share of women who were being hired,” Karin says.

  • Line graph showing:  Changes in the share of women among new hires in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, UK, US, and global.  Graph shows significant dip in all geographic areas (except Germany where it remained steadier) between March and May 2020, with steady rise after that until November 2020

After that massive decline from March to May, the share of women among new hires surged back almost as quickly as it fell. In fact, the global gender split of new hires in January 2021 was actually about 1% more female than it was in January 2020. 

“The share of women hired has recovered quickly, but that could in part be because so many women lost their jobs and had to find new ones,” Karin explains. “So while we’ve seen some recovery, we still have a ways to go. Companies have work to do to get more women back in the workforce globally.”

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