PwC’s Women in Work Index, now in its tenth edition, assesses women’s employment outcomes across 33 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. After a decade of slow but consistent gains from women in work across the OECD, the index fell for the first time in its history.
The two main contributing factors to the decline were higher female unemployment and lower female participation rates during the worst of the pandemic. The index estimates a “COVID-19 gap”, which compares job losses to the employment growth projected prior to the pandemic, finding there were 5.1 million more women unemployed and 5.2 million fewer women participating in the labor market than would be the case had the pandemic not occurred.
Childcare and domestic work responsibilities played a significant role in causing women to leave the workforce. An OECD report on gender inequalities in caregiving and labor market outcomes during COVID-19 shows women took on more unpaid childcare responsibilities during the pandemic, causing them to leave the workforce at higher rates than men. Mothers were three times more likely than fathers to report taking on either the majority, or all, of the additional unpaid care work created by school or childcare facility closures.