Women In The Workforce

The Financially Unprotected Sex

Examining how the pandemic, inflation and looming recession has led to women worrying about their financial future

Through interviews and surveys of over 400 working women between the ages 20-45 years, a new Wyshbox Life Insurance study shows the numbers aren’t good for how women feel about their financial future. Download the full report here.

MILWAUKEE, Sept. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — It’s no surprise that women have had to deal with unprecedented volatility over the past few years. The (financially) unprotected sex by Wyshbox Life Insurance includes interviews and surveys of over 400 women and takes a deep dive into how much of a negative financial impact the pandemic, inflation and fears of a potential recession in the future has had on women of different ages and cultural backgrounds. We’ve discovered that 83% of women surveyed worry about high inflation in the future, which has increased their household expenses and has had a negative effect on their purchasing power. Shockingly, the biggest worry for women of color (35% surveyed) is that their wages are not keeping pace with rising expenses, a worry not shared as strongly by caucasian women.[1]

“An eye-opening learning we found was that 30% of caucasian women versus 42% of women of color had to quit their job over the pandemic,” says Hetal Karani, Senior Strategist who led the research effort for Wyshbox. Those who had quit the workforce cited pursuing higher education opportunities, limited childcare availability and a lack of alternative schooling options as their main reason to exit the labor market—in addition to not wanting to risk their family’s health after being denied remote working options by their employer.[1]

Coupled with the importance of a mother’s salary and a steep rise in dual income households, we found these learnings particularly troubling. “More than 70% percent of households with children under 18 years rely on the woman’s salary, and 40% of moms are the primary breadwinner for the home,”[1] added Hetal, “yet our emphasis on the importance of financial planning for the well being of women and their families has remained stagnant”

And when it comes to protecting their future, 70% of mothers said they were worried about what would happen to their families if they passed away.[2] So it was no surprise that Wyshbox Life Insurance saw an unprecedented level of women applying for Life Insurance, well above the historical average. Applicants were looking to protect their children and spouse should they lose their salary unexpectedly, cover their mortgages to protect their family from losing their home pay out to a college tuition that they have been saving for.

Women Have Come A Long Way

Women are empowered to increasingly ask for equal pay and promotions, as well as break into industries that are primarily male dominated. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29.2% of women out-earned their husbands in 2019 (the year before the pandemic hit and the last year with available data) That’s compared to the 15.9% of higher-earning women from 1981—a figure that’s nearly doubled. According to a Wyshbox survey conducted in 2022, more than 70% percent of US households with children under 18 rely on the woman’s salary.

While these are undoubtedly major wins for women, only half the battle is won in our bid for gender equality. Occupations and the nature of work remain gender-specific to this day. Women and men tend to cluster in different fields—with men leaning towards real estate, business administration, finance and insurance while women are overindexed in education and hospitality. With COVID, this discrepancy has been all the more apparent, leading to businesses employing companywide policies for greater diversity and inclusion. This shift in financial equilibrium is a result of a long and painful journey for women.

Women Of Color Have Further To Go

An eye-opening learning we found was that 30% of caucasian women versus 42% of women of color had to quit their job over the pandemic...

Unfortunately, women of color were and continue to be affected worse by the pandemic than white women as they were overrepresented in certain occupations (care work, food prep, service industry, etc.) that were dramatically cut back at the start of the pandemic. Women of color in service-heavy jobs were forced to leave the workforce due to their industries being most vulnerable to lockdowns. Moreover, front-line work puts these women at a higher risk of contracting COVID, with the
additional risk of spreading it to their family members. With a lot of employers not offering adequate health insurance benefits and sick leave, or none at all, these workers were typically one sickness away from potentially losing their jobs.

Looking at the work-family policies available in these low-paid jobs, the situation is yet again not-so-great. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 57% of Black workers, 53% of Asian workers, 52% of Hispanic workers, and 53% of nonwhite workers of different races are eligible for The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This act, signed into law in 1993, allows workers to “take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed child; care for a seriously ill child, spouse or parent; or care for their own serious health condition without fear of losing their jobs.” Amendments to the act also make allowances for the care of military service members—allowing up to 26 weeks of leave. With just over half of people of color being eligible for family leave, you can see why it seems like working mothers are being unfairly punished by both the pandemic and the system at large

The Bright Side

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. On the plus side, the pandemic induced great resignation has seemed to work well for working women in pandemic-booming industries. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, as of the last business day of May, more than 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, and job openings hit 11.3 million. And it was more women saying, “I quit” than men. This came with great results. According to a study by a private research group, the Conference Board, roughly 31% of women who changed jobs in the past two years had their salaries and bonuses increase by more than 30% compared to 28% of men who mentioned the same. It’ll be interesting to see if companies bump up salary thresholds to attract and retain talents in this inflated world.

Read The (Financially) Unprotected Sex white paper for insights and actionable takeaways for not only the insurtech industry, but for anyone looking to understand how women are taking on the new challenges in front of them.




About Wyshbox
Wyshbox life insurance is there to help make sure that life post-you is everything you want it to be. Wyshbox provides term life insurance tailored to everyone’s specific needs with policies that can help take care of your family, kids, pets, friends, funeral arrangements, and so much more. It takes less than 10 minutes, is 100% online, and plans start at just $9 per month.
[1] Wyshbox Life Insurance. Quantitative Survey “Women during COVID and Recession”. 400 participants. August 8, 2022
[2] Wyshbox Life Insurance. Quantitative Survey “Thematic Survey”. 1200 participants. November 2021