Founder and CEO of TONE Networks, a learning platform to develop female talent through virtual executive coaching.
As Covid-19 social distancing measures continue, it’s imperative that people recognize the impact the pandemic has on their mental health. We all experience stress, pain, loss, anxiety and change differently. In this trying time, feeling like you are alone can make these challenges and emotions seem insurmountable. In discussions with women across the country, I’ve discovered an outpouring of support among women of all levels and in various industries, which has given them a method of self-care to move forward and face each day with a fresh perspective.
As the world has adjusted to changes in daily life, one thing has become abundantly clear: Men and women experience stress and the impacts of this pandemic differently. While the population at large is dealing with several unprecedented challenges, women have had to cope with additional stressors tied to their roles in society. In terms of employment within the United States, we’re seeing the impact of inherent gender imbalances in the workforce play out during this time. For instance, women currently make up a majority of employees in 23 of the 30 lowest paying jobs in the United States and earn 85% of what men earn. This is further exacerbated on the healthcare front lines: The majority of nurses, nursing home employees and home health aides are women. Women are also experiencing slightly higher rates of unemployment. And the situation is even worse for Black women, who receive less support from managers and get less access to senior leaders. These statistics show just the beginning of the stresses women may be experiencing.
Quarantine has forced more responsibilities onto everyone, especially for working women with families who are struggling to manage tasks at home and work. With schools reopening, whether it’s a hybrid model or completely online, responsibilities have largely fallen onto women. Even before the pandemic, women were 10 times as likely to shoulder the burdens of caring for a sick child, on top of spending an extra two hours per day on household chores and caregiving. Now, women are working what Sheryl Sandberg calls “double-double shifts,” juggling the demands of managing office work and domestic duties. Working mothers are no doubt under a disproportionate amount of stress simply due to their roles as career women and mothers, and this pressure could very well take a significant toll on the U.S. economy as the year wears on — to the tune of a whopping $341 billion. We’re beginning to see signs of this stress — but also signs of positivity in the amazing and resilient members of our community.
In our platform’s recent livestream event covering mental toughness, I observed hundreds of women who shared the same experiences as leaders at work and at home, and the struggles they were facing. They were seeking practical expert advice and solutions, and as they shared what they were struggling with, they discovered each of their challenges were surprisingly similar. In my experience, when women come together, even in virtual environments, to offer each other support and advice, they leave that experience knowing they are not alone and are armed with new ways to think about and cope with their situation.
For women who seek the positive support a community can offer, there are many options. Whether you are working from home, back in the office or doing both, it’s a good idea to explore professional organizations (industry or profession-specific) and affinity-based professional groups, such as ones for working mothers, entrepreneurs or other interest-focused. Many companies sponsor employee resource groups, which provide supportive community and important resources that can fuel career success. In lieu of in-person meetings, conferences and networking events, online environments allow many different people from various parts of the world to connect, learn and share their experiences as well as offer and receive support — that’s powerful. Simply being part of a positive community and knowing that others are sharing the same everyday problems and worries can provide perspective and be incredibly helpful. These community experiences are also a powerful piece of the successful career experience: not only essential for your well-being, but an opportunity for valuable networking.
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