Working Mother

The mental-health burden will be bigger than people expect.

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Emily Oster, Ph.D. Professor of Economics and Public Policy

Brown University

The pandemic is especially going to set back women trying to rise up in high-pressure careers, such as lawyers and those in the financial sector, jobs that are already hard when you are also parenting. Now we are discussing how to make these jobs work with homeschool­ing. A lot of people are going to decide it’s just not worth it. We already lose women from those jobs when they have kids; we are going to lose even more of them.

While nanny shares will likely take the place of many childcare centers, what keeps me up at night is thinking about how women are going to manage schools being closed. Plus, the mental-health costs for kids being that isolated are too great. So it will be simultaneo­usly managing working from home, supervisin­g Zooms, making sure your kid has recess with a group of pandemic friends, and squeezing in extracurri­culars. People will “create a school” more than they did before, adding an additional layer of logistics for mothers—on top of the fact that a lot of employers are not going to be as sympatheti­c and flexible as they have been.

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