Pandemic Could Worsen Educational Inequity for Indiana Women

Pandemic Could Worsen Educational Inequity for Indiana Women

By Nadia Ramlagan • Indiana News Service

INDIANAPOLIS – The pandemic may have long-term consequences on women’s ability to earn degrees and make inroads in the workforce, and higher-education leaders across the state say schools should be coming up with better ways to help women achieve their goals. 

Western Governors University Regional Vice President Alison Bell said she works frequently with women who want to increase their skill sets so they can get better jobs – but the pandemic forced many to abandon their studies to care for children or other relatives.

“Prior to the pandemic women spent four hours each day on unpaid work, on average,” said Bell. “And now, it’s increased to 15 or more hours each week of unpaid work.”

According to the Indiana Institute for Working Families, about four in ten Hoosier women have experienced a loss of employment income in their household since March of last year.

Bell added that higher-ed institutions across the state, especially community colleges and schools catering to a working population, should further tailor their programs to meet women’s needs.

“Women need options that allow them to still take care of all of their priorities,” said Bell, “and something that’s affordable, so that they can create opportunities for themselves.”

More than a year after the pandemic, about one in twelve Black women and one in 11 Latina women remain unemployed, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation. 

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