Women, the “pandemic penalty” and the important investment lesson

Important information: The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you can get back less than what you invested.

This article first appeared in the Financial Time

“How did your pandemic go? As we gradually come out of blockages, this is a question we will likely hear much more often. The answer will undoubtedly vary from “hard” to “hell”.

No one has been spared the impact of Covid-19, whether physical, mental or financial. For me, it wasn’t that bad. Do not mistake yourself. Being locked up with a 4 and 2 year old, 24 hours a day, was relentless. But I succeeded because – unlike many others – I had a lot of support.

My husband, put on leave, shared the chore of housework and childcare while my employer embraced new ways of working (even delivering my old office chair to my front door) and did showing tolerance when me or a coworker had to soothe a toddler howling or deal with a stroppy teenager.

The real godsend was my 24-year-old daughter-in-law, who arrived from Australia two years ago on a much anticipated gap year. She has helped with everything from watering the new vegetable patch to home schooling – though her dreams of traveling, music festivals, and meeting new friends have sadly died out.

The pandemic has come at a price for everyone, including young people and ethnic minority groups. But it is now well established that women have paid a particularly high price. Many have lost or quit their jobs, Covid-19 crystallizing the so-called “Maternity penalty”, the opportunity cost of having a baby on your salary and your prospects. He also highlighted the “good daughter” penalty – the fact that daughters are still much more likely than sons to care for a sick or elderly parent. The past 15 months have seen women give up their jobs, work less or lose productivity.

Meanwhile, research shows that men were promoted three times as much as women. Women tend to dominate employment in the service sector. This industry is generally less volatile during recessions or downturns, but Covid-19 has become ‘typical’ in reverse, which brings me back to my daughter-in-law. As a trained hairdresser, she found a job at a local hairdressing salon soon after arriving in the UK. Hair salons tend to be recession-proof – even though the economy is faltering, people still need haircuts. But this time, no one had their hair cut. My daughter-in-law, along with many other women in the area, was put on leave.

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