Greater Baltimore Committee study seeks to understand impact of the virus on women in the workforce
The ramifications from the novel coronavirus pandemic will likely be widespread and long felt. Towson University faculty and the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) want to better understand some of those effects.
Jan Baum and Gabby Swab—a professor and an assistant professor, respectively, in the Department of Management—are working with the GBC’s Baltimore Women’s Advisory Board to analyze how the pandemic has affected women in the regional workforce.
Swab says it has blurred the lines between work and family, because caregivers are spending more time at home. This has created struggles with work–life balance, according to Swab.
“On top of that, we are experiencing a 'shecession,' where women are losing jobs and income at a higher rate than men,” she says. “The 'shecession' is predicted to have long-term effects, and we want to find a way to help now.”
TU’s role in the study comes in the form of providing input and being a resource in the development of the online survey as well as supporting the analysis of the results. The survey went live in late March and is expected to stay online until mid-April.
Baum says the GBC reached out to Towson University to find researchers who would be interested in looking at the economic impact of the pandemic. She says the intent is for the survey to be wide ranging and for it to capture responses across all industries.
“Women’s participation in the workforce hit a high before COVID, and now we’re at a low,” Baum says.
Earlier this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the multinational consulting and accounting firm, declared COVID-19 is causing a "shecession" and that it has lowered the number of women in the workforce to pre-2017 levels.
"The evidence emerging globally is that the damage from COVID-19 and government response and recovery policies, is disproportionately being felt by women," the firm says.
When women participate in the workforce in high numbers, Baum says, it allows for the middle class to remain stable and encourages upward mobility. Understanding the negative effects the pandemic has had on women in the workforce will make it easier to develop solutions.
Swab says she and Baum want feedback and statistical data from those in the greater Baltimore region so the GBC can share that information with regional organizations so they can better support their employees.
“We hope organizations listen to what their employees are saying and can look to provide ways to give them a greater work–life balance,” Swab says.
Participants will have their information anonymized, and Towson University’s Institutional Review Board has approved the study. It will take an estimated 20 minutes to complete the survey, the researchers say.
Participants have the chance to win one of several gift cards or Girl Scout cookie sampler packs.
This is the second time that experts from TU's colleges have collaborated with outside organizations to collect and analyze survey data recently.
Students in the Department of Mass Communication are partnering with the Towson Chamber of Commerce to understand what individuals want from the Towson business community.
Nancy Hafford, director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, says TU has a great history of partnership with outside organizations, including the chamber.
“But never in a greater way that we are now [with the survey],” Hafford says.