The recession has hit women and men differently, but globally, the consensus is there. Economies will grow if women work. Or as the World Bank puts it, investing in women is "smart economics." In this piece for Women in the World Foundation, I profiled three innovative non-profits getting women back in jobs across the United States. One trains women to work in construction; another focuses on microfinance, and a third helps women launch and grow small businesses.
When the recession hit in December 2007, men took the first hit: jobs in construction, real estate and finance, where men are overrepresented, vanished from the labor market. But the so-called “man-cession” has given way to yet another neologism: “the he-covery.” In fact, over the last two years, women’s unemployment has risen while men re-enter the work force. As stimulus money dries up and states and municipalities struggle to balance their budgets, public sector jobs (of which women have already lost 72.3% in the last two years) will face further cuts.
These figures reflect a changing economy, in which certain sectors where women are overrepresented, like administrative and secretarial work, are in decline. Others in which they are underrepresented, like the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, are projected to grow. Construction and extraction jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 1.2% through 2018, but women only make up 2.6% of the industry’s employed.