Many, many years ago, while attending college at Montclair State in New Jersey, I was the president of Phi Chi Theta. At the time, it was a fraternity with the purpose of promoting women in business and economics. As an undergrad studying business administration, it was a perfect fit to build my professional circle of friends, to learn from one another and to gather resources in preparation for the world outside of college – the work place.
We focused our conversations and events on issues facing women in the work place back in the 1980s. (Now you have an idea of how old I am!) It turns out, those issues are still the same today: inequality in pay and promotions, greater child care burden of time and responsibility, and fear of leaving the work place associated with raising a family.
Actually, the pandemic hasn’t helped with many of these issues and likely made them worse, especially those revolving around women and raising a family. During this pandemic, the job loss for women over men is at twice the rate due to the daily responsibility of caring for children. With disparity across the nation in school options, more women stayed home to make up for declining child care options. Even if they are able to work from home, the pressures of work and a family are more challenging and stressful.
During a normal day, women spend 50% more time caring for children than working fathers and are 1.5 times more likely to spend three hours more per day on household chores. These challenges, coupled with the additional stressors of the pandemic, caused many women to leave the workforce. Yet, we will all feel that loss since women, up until this pandemic, were the majority of the workforce.
As we continue to move out of this pandemic, women need to get back into the workforce to meet the goods and service demands of our society. However, women cannot just go back to the same disparate situations. The issues need to be openly discussed with real solutions being sought. If not, women will always have barriers in place, decade after decade.
Women will be part of this solution. With that in mind, the chamber is presenting a very timely “Celebrating Extraordinary Women” event on June 16 at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center. We will delve into these issues and life’s experiences of our distinguished panel of women, to include Sandy Hostetter, Truist Central Florida Regional President; Gisela Laurent, 9th Judicial Circuit Court Judge; Rilla Tomyn, owner of Betty J’s Florist; and the Honorable Kamia Brown, District 46 Representative of the Florida House. For more information, visit the West Orange chamber event page.