Throughout this global pandemic, how many times have we heard “these are unprecedented times”? And that “we’re in this together”? But are we? Many studies are now reporting the hard truth that women are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This piece by CTV News details how women are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus crisis. And in a sector like aerospace, which is already predominantly male, does this crisis further marginalize women who are trying to progress their careers as they try to strike a balance between professional and personal when the two are now entirely overlapping?

Let’s face it – the struggle is very real. And women don’t want to lose any of the ground they’ve worked hard to gain towards workplace gender parity. However, career women are now also caregiving, homeschooling, activity coordinating, short-order cooking, and engineering most other domestic chores while simultaneously supporting their partners who are often also working from home. Video conferencing puts coworkers in one another’s homes, often providing too intimate a view into the pressures of maintaining a clean home or keeping children (or pets) out of sight or out of earshot! Many women will admit that if they are managing, it’s not sustainable; but mostly, they feel they aren’t giving any of these roles enough of their attention. Throw in the added concern if hours have been reduced or jobs have been lost, and the pressure of being able to pay the bills and making ends meet can be daunting.

Uncertainty is certain in these times; the impact on a family’s daily life during the pandemic has been jarring for most. Besides reading the studies and reports, casually reaching out to a multitude of professionals, the resounding message is clear – how can I maintain the balance of being a fully- engaged mom while supporting my professional aspirations and being a functioning partner to my significant other?

The heaviness of this reality may have many considering stepping away from their careers. When outside help is limited due to physical distancing or restrictions, now more than ever partners and spouses need to step up and pull their weight. Even children need to be a part of the solution so the full load is not on mothers alone. As Jennifer Weedon Palazzo says in a Huffpost article asking if Parenthood and Professionalism are at odds “if a person, man or woman, can perform their professional duties while simultaneously keeping one or more human beings alive, that person should be viewed as the opposite of unprofessional.” The optics of employees juggling many tasks should not be seen as unprofessional.

Women in Aerospace Canada (WIA-C) understands these challenges as many of our Directors and members are living examples. WIA-C is curious about how COVID-19 has impacted you. How are you coping with work-life balance? Are you attempting to contribute more at home? How do you manage the childcare duties? Let’s start a conversation! Let’s come together to exchange ideas and share best practices?

The elephant in the room is that a disproportionate amount of responsibility falls on the shoulders of women endeavoring to balance home life, partner satisfaction, and the demands of a career. And in the current situation, there does not seem to be an end in sight. Without a clearly defined path to normalcy or the “new normal” (whatever that is!), we risk having stellar professionals making life-altering career decisions. Besides government support, it’s time for corporate reform that views telecommuting and work/life balance through a different lens. How do we open up that dialog? What are you seeing?

How has your job been impacted? Is your company working with you or against you? Are you clearly defining your needs and demanding the flexibility and support you need? Can you find a balance that doesn’t derail career trajectory? The answers will be varied but the conversation is inevitable.

– by Tony Karadimas and Eva Martinez