How Have Working Moms Jobs Been Impacted by COVID-19?

In previous posts I have discussed the question, ‘to what extent are working moms stressed out?’ during the COVID pandemic. We asked working moms to share their concerns about health, about finances and about the day-to-day challenges of working from home. Here’s what moms told us about how COVID-19 has impacted their work.

Are moms working more, less, the same, or not at all?

One in four (28%) of general population moms reported working the same amount of time that they worked before COVID-19. Another 18% said they are working even more than before. Almost half of these moms, however, said they are working less:

Some of the verbatims from this segment include:

“I’ve been laid off and so has my spouse.”

“I’m unable to work anymore — I was a salon employee.”

“Reduced to only working 5 hours per week if I’m lucky.”

“I’m not working. The owner says he will pay us till we can reopen but it isn’t guaranteed or in writing so we are at his mercy.”

“The factory is shut down so we are not working.”

“I lost my job due to the office closing. The company did not give a choice to work from home and get paid. Instead they cancelled my contract. It is hard to find a job now — no one is really hiring.”

“My income has been cut from salary to hourly.”

“Busier due to missing employees.”

“Minimal physical contact with clients. Appointments are with my patients -dogs and cats mostly, with their owners outside in their cars. Phone calls to discuss exam findings, lab work, results, treatment plans, etc.”

“Loss of hours, loss of pay. Loss of funds to support my family. My mental health has been on a downward spiral also so it’s affected my health also.”

Looking at that same question among “authors’ network” sample (women recruited through our personal and professional networks), the results tell a different story.

Over one in three moms from the authors’ networks (37%) report working even more hours than before, while 35% have been working the same number of hours. Fewer than a quarter report working fewer hours:

Verbatim responses from this sample include:

“I feel lucky to work from home, and there is a similar amount of work to do then there was before.”

“I can work efficiently from home, but the partners at my job are anxious to get us back as soon as the stay at home order is lifted, which is causing additional childcare stress.”

“Registered nurse working night shift on the frontlines. Stressful keeping school aligned with common core and finding time to sleep, cook, do school, and focus on giving ICU patients quality care.”

“Business as usual except immunodeficient coworkers taking leave. So I am working more hours.”

“I had just switched from a FT job to freelancing / my own consultancy in the 3 months before this hit. So while I knew I would have less work in the beginning I was anticipating being as busy or busier than before. Instead, a great deal of work has dried up.”

“My workload has increased because my team has needed to pivot to justify our value and keep our jobs.”

“Work has doubled. Tech issues have doubled. Asks to learn and do new things ASAP at a time when my brain is fried and my time and focus is limited have tripled. Not good for mental health.”

“I’m in philanthropy so covid is shaping our work and increasing the urgency around it — we have to get smarter faster, be more flexible, and get the money out the door ASAP to help those most affected and attempt to mitigate future damage. It’s upped the ante — no room for slack in the system. At the same time, people on the team have been profoundly affected by covid — working from home, often in shared spaces, homeschooling and caring for kids and aging parents. The team capacity to do the work is necessarily compromised. So, urgency and moral imperative is way up and capacity to deliver is limited. It’s intense.”

Are Moms Working From Home or Working Away From Home?

We asked moms where they had been working prior to COVID and where they have been working since the pandemic. Three in ten of the general population working moms are working outside of the home. Thirteen percent are continuing to work outside the home and another 4% who have started working outside their home since COVID). Over half are working from home (with 42% now working from home who were working outside the home before)

Our survey shows that women from the authors’ networks are better able to do their work from home. In contrast to the ‘general population’ sample, only 10% of moms from our networks are working outside the home. 85% of the ‘authors network’ sample are working from home (with ⅔ of these moms are newly working from home). Though it’s not without challenges, sheltering-in-place-while-still-working seems a privilege available to moms such as the professionals and information workers of the Silicon Valley economy.

So, how is it working from home?

Among those moms who are working from home, we asked how it was working out for them with their children at home. The woman in the photo above is definitely not the norm… most of the feedback was about specific challenges.

“I have to be helping my kids with distant learning and do my work on one computer every day. It has been really hard and most of the time I have to work in the night while they are asleep and I barely get to rest.”

“Extremely stressful trying to homeschool, keep the house clean, deal with a stay at home husband until this is over and my children.”

“More distracted. Harder to get my work done from home.”

“My home office is now used by my whole family.”

“It’s a little more stressful from home because of interruptions, not being as focused because not in my office and do not have all the work-related tools at home compared to my home office.”

“It’s difficult to work while managing teenage angst, assisting with 4th grade projects, learning all of the technology, feeding a family of 5 3x a day, and dealing with new work-related chaos.”

In my next post, I will provide more feedback on some of the challenges related to helping kids with schoolwork.



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Michele Madansky

Michele is a media and market research consultant in the bay area. In her spare time she studies gender bias in tech and other industries.