A year into the pandemic, problems remain for women trying to get back into workplace

Vice President Kamala Harris recently described it as a national emergency — millions of American women have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The numbers are especially troubling among working moms of color.

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Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with a mother who lost her business, but is still fighting.

A year into the pandemic, Pamela Grisham is still spending more and more time with her two young daughters.

“I’m an educator and consultant, so I was supporting schools working as a tutor and offering curriculum,” she said.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, Grisham not only lost her job and all of her clients. The Decatur mother of two was also forced to blow through her savings just to make ends meet

“Because of the pandemic we lost my car,” she told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden. “From a woman’s perspective, it’s been tough. In my community, we had to pull together.”

A report released earlier this month shows the devastating impact the pandemic has had on women in the workplace who have lost almost a million more jobs than men.

In fact, researchers blame it on a triple punch. First, the pandemic crushed jobs in industries where women dominate like hospitality, retail and healthcare.

Then came the loss of local and state government jobs where women outnumber men. The third devastating blow came after the closing of child care centers and the shift to remote learning.

“Women had hard choices to make about going to work or staying home with their children at home and often times they couldn’t do both,” said Taifa Smith Butler, president and CEO of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.

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The institute recently published a study showing how the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted working women, especially women of color.

“When you think about 79% of women are the ones who hold those poverty jobs, those poverty wages and then the pandemic hits and those are the jobs that were shuttered,” Butler said.

“We saw women of color bear the challenges during the pandemic and those are some of the issues that we believe there needs to be some intention that women of color can have better opportunities.”

Butler said the pandemic is also causing problems for women trying to get back into the workplace.

“If we don’t make intentional policy changes to really address that long term economic recovery for women, for women of color, low income families, then we are really going to stymied progress long term,” she said.

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Seiden also reached out to a number of medical professionals, including the head researcher of the Mental Health Coalition.

Dr. Naomi Torres-Mackie said there is a term called “role strain” which has been very common among working mothers. It’s the idea that women generally are tasked with so many different roles.

Role strain can be exhausting, stressful and it’s leading to anxiety, depression and high levels of daily stress as well.

“This juggling act that has become even more intense because of things like job loss, loss of childcare having sick family members and taking on a caregiving role,” Torres-Mackie said. “So all these added responsibilities within the pandemic, it makes it really hard to balance things like taking care of yourself and others.”