Team NEO Examines the Pandemic’s Economic Impact on Working Women

Even before the pandemic, systemic issues led to unequal pay, rigid maternity and paternity policies and hiring biases

Team NEO’s latest economic research report examines the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on working women through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens. Team NEO released the report, Lost Opportunities, presented by ZayMat Distributors, today with a virtual launch event.

Lost Opportunities is a supplement to Team NEO’s annual Aligning Opportunities report, which provides a clear assessment of in-demand jobs, the availability of trained workers to meet demand and a picture of what skills and training our workforce needs to fill them. Lost Opportunities complements Team NEO’s Misaligned Opportunities report, a supplement released last year that took a deeper look at racial equity as it relates to labor force opportunities.

Lost Opportunities uses national and regional data to illustrate wage disparities, participation and representation of women in industries and occupations. It also examines the connection between women’s wages and the sectors they work in.

Key highlights of Lost Opportunities include:

  • Before the pandemic things were not equal – In 2019, Northeast Ohio women earned 23% less than men while representing 45% of all hours worked. At the same time, more women nationally were taking on leadership roles: vice president roles grew from 23% to 28% and from 17% to 21% in C-suite positions.
  • Pandemic restrictions, consumer behaviors and child care policies impacted women more than men during the pandemic. Moody’s Analytics found that women were twice as likely as men to reduce their work hours among couples living together.
  • In Northeast Ohio, women make up a majority of the labor force in many of the occupations hardest hit by pandemic-related changes in social distancing business operations and consumer behavior. For example, teachers, insurance agents, restaurant workers and owners, beauty stylists and salon owners, and child care providers.
  • Education doesn’t guarantee equal pay: The gap in wages increases with educational attainment. In 2019, women with a bachelor’s degree earn similar wages to men with some college or an associate degree.
  • Compared to their male counterparts, female-owned businesses surveyed in August 2020 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were less likely to predict higher revenues; In Northeast Ohio the breakdown of ownership by gender is 61% men, 16% women and 23% Other (did not identify by gender and/or identified as both).

“These insights are critical to our work to build a more vibrant economy in Northeast Ohio – one that is talented, equitable, innovative, resilient, competitive and prosperous,” said Bill Koehler, Team NEO CEO. “We hope this report advances conversations on creative solutions to retain and attract female candidates, so we have full participation in the workforce.”

The report concludes with case studies from five Northeast Ohio leading organizations that are working towards this goal with programs built into their operations that help women grow and thrive in their environment: Engage! Cleveland, Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, S3 Technologies, YWCA of Greater Cleveland, and Tri-C.

About Team NEO

Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization accelerating business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio Region. As the designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we align and amplify local economic development efforts in the region’s 18 counties; we conduct research and data analysis to inform local conversations and influence solutions; we market the Northeast Ohio Region; and we work to increase access to jobs, education and training for the region’s 4.3 million people. We do this to build a more vibrant regional economy –  one that is more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient and prosperous. For more information, visit