Department of Organization

New Publication on Gendered Labor in the Coronavirus Crisis


New Publication on Essential and Expendable: Gendered Labor in the Coronavirus Crisis

By Assistant Professor Megan Tobias Neely (Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School)

Since March 2020, over 33 million people in the United States have filed jobless claims. When 42 states required all but essential workers to stay home, mass furloughs and layoffs ensued and unemployment surged from 4.4% to 14.7%. The unemployment rate is predicted to reach 16% - the highest since the Great Depression—and more than a quarter of the work force is jobless in many states.

In general, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in sectors with severe job loss—hospitality, leisure, education, healthcare, and retail—women have been let go at higher rates than men and at higher rates than their share of employment. In good times and bad times, women’s labor has been deemed more expendable.

While some women have been let go, others have been called essential and “heroic,” as though going to work were a brave “choice.” Over half of family care doctors, nurses, health aides, pharmacists, and grocery store clerks are women. Calling these women heroes actually discounts the value of their labor: A “hero” does things because they are a hero, rather than for pay. Thus, the hero’s work cannot be fairly compensated, which legitimizes that it’s not. The work typically done by women is being simultaneously dismissed and valorized during the current crisis.

Read the complete publication here

The page was last edited by: Department of Organization // 06/30/2020