The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the careers of women, with an estimated 3 million having left the workforce over the last year. The crisis has been especially trying for working mothers, with more than half saying their job performance has slipped during the pandemic.
Fortunately, the news is brighter on college campuses, where women are staying enrolled in college at three times the rate of men. While 8 percent of men over the age of 25 have dropped out during the pandemic, just 2 percent of older women have. This is a continuation of a decades-long trend of women out-enrolling men, but it still comes as a surprise. With women disproportionately handling household and childcare responsibilities, many observers predicted the opposite.
As a first-generation college graduate and a working mom who had my second child days after finishing my final MBA class, I have experienced firsthand some of the barriers these women face. That so many have managed to stay enrolled even as a pandemic only added to their workload speaks to their intense determination. But underneath the surface, there are millions of women kicking like hell just to stay above water.
At least one in five college students are parents, and more than 70 percent of these students are women. There are more than 2.1 million single mothers in higher education, accounting for nearly 20 percent of female undergraduates.