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COVID didn’t cost U.K. women as many jobs as expected

June 16, 2021, 1:08 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! MacKenzie Scott makes a new round of donations, Jean Liu gets ready for Didi’s IPO, and COVID didn’t cost women in the U.K. as much work as expected. Have a great Wednesday.

– An unexpected outcome. The pandemic-era jobs crisis that hit women in the U.S. was nothing if not predictable. But in the U.K., things didn’t quite pan out as experts anticipated.

Early on, economists thought the COVID-19 crisis would deal a disproportionately large economic hit to women compared to men, but that trend didn’t materialize. In fact, the employment rate among men has fallen by more since the start of the pandemic than it has among women—2.4% versus 0.8%.

New analysis by the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, digs into why female employment in the U.K. fared better than expected, and the research adds a new dimension to how women worldwide have experienced the pandemic.

Early analyses predicted that lockdowns would hamper women-heavy industries like hospitality and retail more than others. But those forecasts underestimated how many male-dominated sectors, like manufacturing, would also shut down. What’s more, women are overrepresented in health care and education, sectors that retained employees throughout the pandemic, and in public sector jobs, which were largely insulated from layoffs and job cuts too. Plus, men in the U.K. are twice as likely to be self-employed, a segment that had worse outcomes in the crisis than employees.

Mothers’ working hours did decline during the U.K.’s first lockdown in April 2020, falling 37%, more than the decrease experienced by fathers (34%) and non-parents (32%). When the U.K. reopened last July—but schools stayed shut—mothers’ working hours remained 24% below pre-COVID levels, a drop that was twice the size of non-parents’ and four times as large as fathers’.

But the outcome for women as a whole was buoyed by women without children, whose working hours are now the highest of any demographic, roughly 5% higher than even pre-pandemic levels. The uptick in work among women, the report says, “is consistent with changes in working hours after the financial crisis: many women (particularly second earners) increase their labor supply in response to the income shock.”

And the headline figures here don’t tell the whole story; it’s not as if U.K. women got off easy this past year. The report notes that in early 2021, mothers’ working hours were starting to align with fathers’ and return to “normal” levels, but moms were still shouldering childcare and home-schooling duties, with 18% saying they’d rejiggered their work schedules to accommodate those responsibilities, versus 13% of dads.

The study also points out that moms’ mental health suffered amid school closures, “while fathers, on average, appear to have faced no impact.”

Like the Fortune MPW Summit, Brainstorm Tech, our annual technology conference, is back in person later this year! The two-day meeting of the (tech) minds will take place Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and our roster of speakers includes an impressive selection of women whose names have graced the Broadsheet before: Anousheh Ansari of XPRIZE Foundation, Tekedra Mawakana of Waymo, and Adi Tatarko of Houzz, to name a few. This year, we are also excited to announce two new, all-star guest cochairs, including GV Partner Terri Burns. Sign up here.

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Scott watch. MacKenzie Scott announced a new round of donations, this time totaling $2.74 billion to 286 organizations. In her blog post announcing the donations, the philanthropist weighed in on the media coverage surrounding her distribution of her Amazon-funded fortune. "Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role," she wrote. "We are all attempting to give away a fortune that was enabled by systems in need of change." Fortune

- Ride along. The upcoming IPO for Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing will mean a big payday for the company's cofounders, one of whom is Jean Liu. Liu serves as president of the business and owns a 1.7% stake that could be worth $1.6 billion. Fortune

- GOAT on Glamour. Simone Biles is on the cover of Glamour for the magazine's Olympics issue. The record-breaking athlete talks about the mental toll of continuing to compete through the troubled organization USA Gymnastics, when she feels most like herself (eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas), and her projects beyond the gymnastics mat. Glamour

- Bipartisan confirmation. The Senate confirmed Lina Khan to a seat on the Federal Trade Commission in a remarkably bipartisan 69-28 vote. Her confirmation and appointment as FTC chair shows the growing political support for greater regulation of Big Tech—an issue 32-year-old Khan has championed. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Law professor Renee Jones will run the SEC's division of corporate finance. Notarize hired Terri Davis as GM, real estate. Mary Stutts joined Real Chemistry to lead diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. At data lake business Dremio, Debbie Klett will become head of strategic partner and channel marketing while Deepa Sankar will be VP of portfolio marketing. 


- Dress for success. Ralph Lauren is the latest company to tie executive compensation to diversity goals. Pay for leaders at the fashion brand will now in part depend on having at least 20% of its global leadership from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups by 2023. Fortune

- Remote results. In India, remote work has helped companies improve gender diversity, according to a new report. Forty-three percent of Indian businesses hired women from mid-management to senior levels in 2020 compared to just 18% in 2019. Quartz

- The IVF journey. Stylist Alicia Lombardini underwent in vitro fertilization as a single woman, and her story was used in the latest season of Master of None on Netflix. She writes about how difficult, emotional, and expensive the process was—and what we can do to make it easier for people to become parents. New York Times


Toxic work environments shouldn't be a rite of passage Teen Vogue

Monica Lewinsky signs first-look producing deal with 20th Television ahead of Impeachment: American Crime Story Variety

An Olympic runner was banned after testing positive for a steroid. She believes it's a false positive from a pork burrito CNN


"I think that’s what America can best be focused on now. Because we’ve still got it."

-Samantha Power, the former UN ambassador and current USAID head, on the role she believes the U.S. still plays on the global stage, from encouraging kids' education worldwide to participating in global vaccine distribution

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