Actions

The challenges for women going back to the workforce

And the support that's out there
41% of women are breadwinners in their households
Posted at 6:08 AM, May 17, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Local experts say women will lose a generation of workforce gains, due to the pandemic. One year later, it's difficult for women, specifically mothers, to find their footing and reach their goals.

“It has been a year of change, learning to adapt," said Ann Nichols, attorney and mother of two boys, ages 6 and 3.

As an attorney, she was used to busy days, but in march of last year, it all went into overdrive.

Ann Nichols and her sons, Andy and Rory, ages 6 and 3
Ann Nichols and her sons, Andy and Rory, ages 6 and 3

"By Monday, I all of a sudden became a stay-at-home mom and a teacher and my law practice was completely put on the back burner,” said Nichols.

It was a juggling act of zoom calls, homework and talking to clients, where she heard a lot of the same stories.

“I represent people who are working at minimum wage jobs, who have children at home. A lot of my clients, specifically moms, were forced to give up their jobs," said Nichols.

41% of women in our community are either the primary breadwinner or sole breadwinner for their families, according to the WNY Women's Foundation. In COVID, 1 in 4 women dropped out of the workforce.

And one year later, he struggles continue.

"It’s going to be very challenging for women to find their footing again, childcare centers are not all re-opened because they have their own struggles," said Teresa Bair, Chair-Elect, WNYWF.

And many are contemplating staying on unemployment so they can be there for their kids.

"The incentive is just not there and it quite frankly doesn’t make sense for a lot of women," said Nichols.

Things are easier now for Nichols. Her kids are now back in school and daycare and she can put more focus on work.

Nichols' sons are back to in-person learning
Nichols' sons are back to in-person learning

"It’s really more now just about being able to roll with the punches and make those changes when necessary, if I have to stay home, I have to stay home. Somebody’s gotta be there with my little guys. It’s about building a network that can support that kind of lifestyle," said Nichols.

That’s where the WNY Women's Foundation comes in. They’re hosting an event Monday afternoon called What She’s Made Of.

"And the whole point is to be talking to women, saying hey, you can do this," said Bair.

It’s an opportunity to meet and hear from women you can relate to, in hopes of lifting each other up.

"Just sort of to engage in the dialogue, elevate the issues, let people know there’s a community of support here for you and we hope that it’ll just be one little step to give people hope," said Bair.

The event is virtual and begins at 3:45pm. Tickets are $50 for individuals and $150 for a household of four. All of the money raised supports the WNYWF.

Throughout the event, they’ll be featuring the unsung heroes in our community and talking to local employers about what they can do to help.

"We don’t want to survive, we want to become leaders, we want to achieve our goals," said Bair.

To register, click here.