Monday, August 16, 2021
Nicole Buonocore Porter has published Working While Mothering During the Pandemic and Beyond in volume 78 of the Washington & Lee Law Review Online (2021).
Although combining work and family has never been easy for women, working while mothering during the pandemic was close to impossible. When COVID-19 caused most workplaces to shut down, many women were laid off. But many women were forced to work from home alongside their children, who could not attend daycare or school. Mothers tried valiantly to combine a full day’s work on top of caring for young children and helping school-aged children with remote school. But many found this balance difficult, leading to women’s lowest workforce participation rate in over forty years. And even women who did not quit nevertheless suffered workplace consequences from logging many fewer work hours than before the pandemic. The exact magnitude of this toll, in terms of costs and careers, will not be known for years, if ever. This Article explores the challenges working mothers faced during the pandemic and sketches an outline of what solutions might have mitigated the difficulties during the pandemic and could make a difference in the lives of working mothers moving forward.
This article is an important time-capsule of sorts as it documents the COVID-19 hardships families have faced, mothers particularly, as they have balanced work and family. The article surveys a broad range of next steps to mitigate these hardships and reveals how these challenges are rooted so deeply in our workplace cultures and our societal structures.