Washington Post, January 2022
If two years of pandemic life has taught us anything, it is that the United States urgently needs its own version of Japan’s “womenomics,” an effort to boost women in the workforce. Omicron January has offered yet another reminder that parents, especially moms, are at a breaking point—over inadequate child care, intermittent schooling and the challenges of work, whether remote or in-person. It’s also been a warning about what happens when the U.S. economy doesn’t have enough workers: Growth slows as businesses are forced to cut hours or shut entirely. The 24-hour diner becomes the 16-hour place.
The irony of the moment is that at precisely the time when U.S. policymakers should think bigger about remaking the workplace to meet the needs of women, we are going inthe wrong direction. The impending demise of Build Back Better threatens initiatives such as paid parental leave, more subsidies for child care and universal prekindergarten.
Addressing these long-standing problems is not just a matter of doing something nice for women, children and families—it’s good for the overall economy. There’s an immediate need to keep more women from quitting (or forgoing promotions) because they are burned out, but there’s also a longer-term imperative to make it easier for more women to be part of the paid workforce in the years to come.