Allison Weidhaas, Rider University – Women Working at Home During the Pandemic

Women are often see as caregivers, which COVID has only exacerbated.

Allison Weidhaas, associate professor in the department of communication and journalism at Rider University, delves into why.

Currently, Allison Weidhaas, Ph.D., combines two fun and rewarding careers, public relations and higher education. After 10 years assisting a variety of companies with their public relations needs and teaching part-time, she returned to school to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of South Florida.

As a PR practitioner, she has accomplished the following:

Developed strategic public relations plans for new and established businesses that tied to corporate goals and objectives

Assisted companies and individuals in gaining exposure in important media outlets

Supervised and mentored a staff

Established relationships with media, trade associations, industry analysts, university researchers, and many other influential and interesting people

Today, Dr. Weidhaas is fortunate enough to share some of her PR and business experiences with students at Rider University.

Women Working at Home During the Pandemic

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Throughout history, women have held positions related to care, often as unpaid labor within homes, but also as nurses and teachers. Research shows these positions are often underpaid and dominated by women.

Studies also indicates women frequently seek careers that align with their family commitments. In my study of female business owners, many women pursued business ownership based on the perception that it would give them more flexibility to fulfill family obligations. Interestingly, research shows not only are women perceived as caregivers, but this is often a role they desire. In one of my studies, I found women who hid work from their children in an attempt to communicate that their children were a priority. Priority is a word interviewees used repeatedly to describe their relationship between their children and work.

Other studies reveal that women want to manage decisions related to childcare, and while we often aim for gender equality, women still report spending more time child rearing than men and a greater amount of mental energy.

At this point, you might understandably be questioning how this conforms to feminist values, which we have touted for generations. Sadly, today’s pandemic research only further solidifies the focus on gendered work as women are largely the ones leaving outside work to stay home with children in virtual schools, juggling small children when daycares close, and taking on greater household responsibilities during the pandemic. According to the Women’s Law Center, at the start of the school year, four times as many women compared to men dropped out of the labor market.

History doesn’t have to repeat itself. There are opportunities for change.

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