WISCONSIN — The pandemic has pushed millions of women out of the workforce. Something experts say will impact businesses long-term. 

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women both in Wisconsin and across the U.S. female-dominated industries like education, hospitality and healthcare are among the hardest hit in the pandemic. 

In April of 2020 labor economists started to notice women were leaving the workforce at much higher rates. 

Sameena Mulla, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette, told us in that same month in Wisconsin double the number of women than men left their jobs. 

The COVID effect upset the delicate balance working women keep between their careers and raising a family. "None of us were surprised by the idea women take on a disproportionate, let's face it, almost all of the housework and school supervision," Professor Mulla commented. "And as our children's schools were shut down a lot of that really fell on women." 

Communities hit the hardest, fall along racial disparities and class. Professor Mulla pointed out "so people who were already low income or underemployed were much more vulnerable."

Professor Mulla said a new statistic has also come to light. Fewer women are looking to return to work, which in the long run will roll back a lot of progress. 

"It's a deep setback, quite frankly," Professor Mulla shared.  "And I think a lot of us understand that when you leave the workplace you lose your references you lose all this experience that some of your peers are gaining. In the long-term you really lose out in terms of social security and pension benefits so even things that appear to be problems in the present become really big problems in the long-term..."