Women executives say the pandemic is exacerbating gender bias

October 10, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC
Woman Work From Home-Kids-Gender Bias
A woman works at an Apple Inc. laptop computer on the couch as children listen to tablet devices on the floor in this arranged photograph taken in Bern, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. The biggest Wall Street firms are navigating how and when to bring employees safely back to office buildings in global financial hubs, after lockdowns to address the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to do their jobs remotely for months. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Stefan Wermuth—Bloomberg/Getty Images

This year is hard on working women. They’re losing their jobs and leaving the workforce at higher rates than men. Not to mention school closures are disproportionately creating more work for mothers.

So how are women at the top doing? How do they see the pandemic changing their work?

To find out, Fortune surveyed a group of more than 600 women leaders in our Most Powerful Women (MPW) community. In all, we received 112 responses in September. Among those, 88% work on at least one corporate or nonprofit board and 30% are CEOs. 

Among the women executives surveyed by Fortune, 66% say the pandemic is exacerbating gender bias.

The pandemic is resulting in more childcare work for employed parents—and much of that is falling to mothers. But 57% of women leaders told Fortune that their company is not offering additional child-care resources or paid leave. On the flip side, 43% of them say their employers are expanding benefits for parents. Those companies, according to our survey results, are more likely to be led by a woman CEO.

The pandemic is taking a mental toll on women leaders too. While half of respondents say their mental health hasn’t been negatively impacted, almost 4 in 10 say their mental health has.

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They aren’t alone: A recent Brown University and Boston University study finds mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are soaring during the pandemic.


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