Pandemic disproportionately impacting women, business leaders share struggles

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – All of us have been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another whether losing a job or adapting to a new workflow. But, experts say none have been impacted more than women.

In the early days of the pandemic, the parts of the economy that were hit the hardest by job losses were fields where women dominate like restaurants and retail businesses.

One local economic expert says they were hit even harder over the past two months.

“The largest increases since around that Thanksgiving time were in accommodations and food services. You go over to health care, particularly we’re talking about people, not necessarily the doctors but if you move the stream of health care you get a lot of those nurses that are highly impacted by this and administrative staff in some of these small health facilities that have been impacted,” said Jeremy Hill, the Director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.

Regardless of the industry, women working in the pandemic have other obstacles.

“We had just purchased the first floor of The Orpheum and were renovating some private offices,” said Andrea Hattan, the founder of The Hive.

A major investment into The Hive, which is usually buzzing with women in business.

Hattan says that hasn’t been the case recently.

“When the fall came around we lost almost 100% of our private office members because they were all moms and the school went remote.”

The work-life balance being tested for many women.

“I have an 18-month-old but when the pandemic first happened there was no daycare available at that time. All the daycares were closed,” said Taishma Council, owner of Virtual Goals Assistant Agency.

That’s when Council pivoted, leaving her corporate job and starting her own business offering rescue for small businesses.

“I feel like we always want to be superwoman but that’s impossible,” she said.

For other women, their pandemic struggles were out of their control.

The Rusty Nail had to close their doors six months after opening.

“Being so new we weren’t sure, we were going to be able to come back,” said Shauna Claycomb, co-owner of The Rusty Nail.

“Laying awake worried about my staff and them going months without employment that keeps me up,” Claycomb added in.

Fortunately, for The Rusty Nail, their staff is back and making it work.

Just like many women apart of The Hive who are adapting to stay afloat in the pandemic.

“We all have to get creative in these times. My advice is to take the skills that you have or the passions that you have and try to find a way to make that work,” said Jenna Osborne, Pure Zest Cleaning owner.

The founder of The Hive said while some women have found success in the pandemic, others have not.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said just last month 140,000 jobs were lost and all of those were in fields dominated by women.

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