issues and experts

Facing a pandemic ‘she-cession’ – SFU experts provide insight

November 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on women, according to a recent report from RBC.

Many who left the workforce to care for their children or have lost their job have not re-entered the workforce. 

The holiday season also has the potential to create more unpaid care work for women, leading to increased stress and poor mental health.  

SFU experts are available to discuss the pandemic’s impacts on women, how it is creating a ‘she-cession,’ and how we can mitigate these effects and build back better going forward. 


KENDRA STRAUSS, associate professor and director, Labour Studies,      

  • How the gendered impacts of the pandemic reflect the underlying gendered inequities across the spheres of paid and unpaid work that predated the pandemic
  • How gender intersects with racialization in ways that particularly impact racialized women 
  • The need for taxes on wealth and excess earnings (corporate and labour) to be invested in comprehensive public childcare and the expansion of public and not-for-profit services in sectors like seniors’ care   

JULIA SMITH, university research associate, Gender and COVID-19 Project, Faculty of Health Sciences  
604.837.4285 |

  • How the gender pay gap and gender norms contribute to women giving up paid work to provide unpaid care work, and how this will impact long-term career and personal development opportunities for women
  • Impacts of rising COVID-19 cases on frontline workers, the majority of whom are women, related to the double stress of working in positions that put them at risk while trying to manage increased care burdens, and the long-term impacts of this stress
  • How the holidays often create additional unpaid care work for women in addition to COVID-related burdens and uncertainty, and how this might exacerbate poor mental health 

AMANDA WATSON, lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
778.956.7784 | 

  • Distributions of unpaid care/labour in families 
  • How women disproportionately fill gaps in paid and unpaid labour in response to economic and family needs
  • Why we should care about women leaving the labour force 


MELISSA SHAW, SFU  Communications & Marketing 
236.880.3297 |


As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.