||by Jennifer Hernandez
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Now more than ever, UMass Online believes advocating for and supporting economic opportunities for women is critical.
Over the past year, covid-19 has had a disproportionate economic impact on women. Nearly 3 million American women have left the labor force over the past year in response to the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, women made up more than 50% of the United States’ workforce, however this number has dropped severely.
The Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board (CED), has cited two primary factors that caused this group to be so negatively impacted:
- Due to disruptions in childcare and education in response to the pandemic, women have been forced to take the brunt of this responsibility 
- Both service-oriented and lower-wage jobs, which predominantly employ women, have been hit the hardest by the pandemic; these include healthcare, restaurant servers, food preparation, administrative support, and personal service 
In the CED’s report, the Committee provides eleven steps both policymakers and business leaders can take to help overcome the economic impact women have experienced due to the pandemic. One of those steps – helping women advance in leadership positions, is an area UMass Online has long supported and advocated for.
Recently, the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI), in collaboration with UMass Amherst’s University Without Walls, and UMass Online, launched a fully online Leadership Excellence Certificate Program. This 8-week online leadership program was created to empower working professionals with the new skills, knowledge, and tools needed to learn how to be an effective leader, implement organizational change and propel their careers forward.
One of the faculty members teaching this program, Dana Henry, Director of Organizational Development & Learning at UMDI, has over 30 years of experience developing executive and professional development programs. It’s her mission to advance the development of organizational leaders and managers while also supporting competency-based learning.
In addition to offering certificate programs to promote career growth, UMass Online has been a proud exhibitor of the prestigious Massachusetts Conference for Women for the past ten years. The mission of this women-focused conference is to promote, communicate and amplify the influence of women in the workplace and beyond. In 2021, UMass Online proudly exhibited at each virtual women’s conference in California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
This past March, UMass Online exhibited at the California Conference for Women. It was not lost on the UMass Online team nor conference attendees that this event was being held during Women’s History Month. Throughout the many conversations with attendees, a clear theme began to emerge; pursuing higher education for professional and personal development was a high priority – especially as women continue to break through and excel in areas where they historically haven’t been well represented.
As the pandemic begins to subside and women start heading back into the workforce, it will be vital for the entire economy that employers, business leaders, and policymakers, find ways to help support this group of impacted workers.