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Women Are Looking to Reinvest in Themselves, Report Finds

 Millions of jobs primarily held by women in retail, restaurant, travel and hospitality fields vanished during the pandemic. (iStock/Greenseas)

More than 2 million women left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of jobs primarily held by women in retail, restaurant, travel and hospitality fields have vanished without certainty they will return, according to a recent survey of women by Strayer University, an institution of higher learning for working adult students made up of 72% females.

Strayer University also found that women who remained in the workforce during the pandemic are unsatisfied in their current jobs and seeking a change. Strayer commissioned Atomik Research, an independent market research firm, to conduct the survey of more than 2,000 women to better understand how to support their re-entrance and advancement in the workforce.

Among the women who remained in the workforce, the survey found that 54% spend up to five hours per day browsing the internet for a new job, with Black and Hispanic women conducting job searches at an even higher rate of 64% and 66%, respectively.

“The fact that the majority of working women are taking hours out of their already busy schedules to search for new opportunities indicates they are likely unsatisfied with their current working arrangements,” said Andrea Backman, president of Strayer University. “That dissatisfaction comes as no surprise. Women have had to make tough decisions throughout the pandemic ­— balancing work and childcare or juggling virtual meetings with virtual schooling. As a result, they’re now looking for better flexibility and support in the workforce.”

Many of these challenges and uncertainties are felt by a greater percentage among women of color as the pandemic has laid bare systemic inequities in professional culture and larger society, Strayer University stated.

The study also found that 37% of working women feel the COVID-19 pandemic has put them behind on their career trajectory, and 45% of all working moms believe they were passed up for a promotion, bonus or other compensation because of the perceived work/life balance of kids being home during the pandemic.

Nearly two-thirds of women who faced employment changes in the pandemic believe continuous education is necessary to advance their career, and 45% agreed that if the opportunity presented itself, they would go back to college to start or finish their degree to move forward in the workforce.

“Women are looking for the chance to reinvest in themselves and it’s critical that employers and higher education support them in that effort,” Backman said. “Employers can commit to hiring and training women, providing employee tuition assistance programs, and offering the flexibility to work while earning a degree. And higher education providers should provide the flexibility and support women need to continue their education.”

Founded in 1892, Strayer University is in Washington, D.C.