Pre-Pandemic: Progress for Women was Slow with Many Challenges

  • While there was a minor upward shift for women in senior positions, women continued to be drastically underrepresented in leadership positions, especially women of color.
  • The “broken rung” continued holding millions of women back from being promoted to manager.
  • Women remained significantly outnumbered in entry-level management with only 38% of positions.
  • Women’s participation in the labor force had not yet returned to its 2000 peak by the time the coronavirus pandemic began (McKinsey 2020).


  • 100% of jobs lost in December 2020 were held by women.
  • 275,000 women left the workforce in January 2021.
  • Mothers who are reducing their work hours and leaving the labor force outright add up to $64.5 billion a year in lost wages and economic activity.
  • The net 2.4 million women who left the labor force from February 2020 to February 2021 included 582,000 Hispanic women and 511,000 Black women.
  • Collectively, Hispanic and Black women accounted for 46% of the total decrease among women, but represent less than one-third of the female labor force in the U.S.
  • Women of Color are dealing with additional challenges—including long-standing issues of racial bias—and getting less support from managers and coworkers.

The Stats

“Already we are seeing a reversal in decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights. Without a concerted response, we risk losing a generation or more of gains ..."

Challenges for Women

  • Lack of flexibility at work
  • Feeling like they need to be “always on”
  • Increased strain, housework, and caregiving burdens
  • Concern for performance being judged negatively as a result of caregiving responsibilities
  • Feelings of loneliness and unable to discuss the challenges they are facing with supervisors and team
  • Feeling blindsided by decisions that affect their day-to-day work
  • Unable to fully “show up” for work

This is a Crisis for Corporate America & Our Greater Society

Companies risk losing women in leadership – and future women leaders –unwinding years of painstaking progress toward gender equity and diversity.

A Pivotal Moment

If women leaders leave the workforce, diverse women at all levels could lose their most powerful allies and champions. A Company’s commitment to gender and racial inclusion and equity is needed now more than ever.

"If companies rise to the moment with bold action, they can protect hard-won gains in gender diversity and racial inclusion and lay the foundation for a better workplace long after Covid-19 is behind us."

*The information on this page was gathered from a number of sources you can connect to but clicking stats and links. For additional and cited information see: