Working mothers leaving good jobs due to child care challenges a year into COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nearly 54 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic were held by women. Since last February, more than 5 million women have lost their jobs.

A suburban woman explains why she gave up a good job to help her children at home: juggling work full-time from home and her kids' remote learning was overwhelming.

"After everybody else would go to sleep, I would work from 7 to 10, or get up early before everyone else just to keep things afloat at work," Nicole Rhone said. "It was stressful."

As the pandemic went on, the demands at home led Rhone and her husband to make a drastic change. Rhone left her job in human resources and the family downsized to a smaller home in Elgin.

"For right now, it's critical for me to be here," Rhone said. "There are so many women are struggling with it and that so many companies and corporations are not set up to support us the way we need."

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"We have an absolute crisis as it relates to the caregiving burden that women largely carry, that includes child care, but also includes caring for family members as well," said Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Vice President of Policy and Organizational Impact at Women Employed.
Women Employed advocates for women's rights in the workplace. Majmudar emphasized the need to improve funding and access to quality child care.

"This is not the time for small action," she said. "This is the time to be big and bold."

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"The village has been stripped away and even if you can afford to pay, the daycare you used to use is closed and it just threw everything into a tailspin," said Colleen Curtis, Chief Community Officer of The Mom Project, a job site for moms returning to work. "Per usual, moms are the backbone of how we've muscled through this. They've been there for their families, they've been there for their companies. They've gotten the job done anyway they could."

Recently, The Mom Project has seen more women looking for remote, flexible, family-friendly jobs. Rhone hopes to eventually find work with those benefits. For now, her focus is family.

"I had to choose between work and family. So many women are in that predicament and for me, I chose family," Rhone said.

"Our America: Women Forward" is special series celebrating women across this country through stories of their perseverance, resilience, triumph, hope, achievement, strength and power. We will break down the disparities that challenge progress and the systemic sexism at the root of it all. You'll meet mothers, daughters, sisters and friends; innovators, teachers, gamechangers, power players, explorers, athletes and everyday heroes. The stories will begin to air on Eyewitness News at 4pm on March 8 and will culminate in a one-hour documentary that will air Saturday, March 13.

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