On behalf of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, we completed a study to find out what happened to women whose job situations had changed as a result of the pandemic. We wanted to know who they are, what happened to them, why did they leave, how are they getting by, and, if they are not working, will they ever come back.
Back in March of 2022 (two years after the start of the pandemic), we conducted 18 focus groups with 66 women. Some of the focus groups were in person, most were over Zoom. We talked to all different types of women: ages, races, education level, family size, and relationship status. Despite these differences, they shared a couple of things in common.
Where they had been thriving prior to the pandemic, they suddenly found themselves struggling.
They were grateful to have the opportunity to share their stories.
After completing the focus groups, we compiled a report titled, Women and Work, and created a companion project summary which you can download here. In addition, we officially released the report at the end of July to a small group of employers and other stakeholders who are interested in finding innovative solutions to workforce and talent challenges.
At that event, we told Kartier's story. Kartier was one of the women who participated in our focus groups.
Kartier, a single mother in her 20s, was studying to become a nurse. It was the second week of March 2020, about the time the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Ohio, when colleges and universities across the state moved their classes online, including the nursing program where Kartier was enrolled.
In addition to taking classes, Kartier worked part-time at the daycare where her one-year-old son was enrolled. It was March 26 when Governor DeWine ordered the closure of all daycare centers across Ohio. On that day, not only did Kartier lose her childcare, but she lost her job.
She and her son lived with her mother to help care for her elderly grandmother. Kartier says that distance learning was not for her. It's not just that she's a people person, but she liked to sit in the front row in the classroom. She likes to be right in front of her teachers. And all the distractions at home--her baby son, her mother, her grandmother--contributed to her grades starting to slip. Soon, she says, they kicked her out.
Kartier thought she had a plan. The pandemic said otherwise.
Kartier was featured in this article in the Business section of the August 11, 2022 edition of the Columbus Dispatch. Like all of the women we spoke to, Kartier had been hit hard by the pandemic. All at once, she went from thriving to struggling.
Today, Kartier has a new job and an apartment. She plans to get back to nursing school soon. And the photos of her and her two kids that accompany the article are perfect. She's on her way back to thriving!
The article explains how the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio, the organization that funded the study, plans to use this information to support women job seekers. Applegate Talent Strategies will use it to help employers improve their jobs so women (and all people!) can thrive at work.