News Brief

Women in Green Building Hit Hard by Pandemic

Gender equity in the workplace may see backsliding due to COVID-19, despite strong employer support.

cover of Women in the Workplace survey

Employers are offering greater flexibility, but women still feel pressure.

Image: U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. has made strides toward attaining gender equality, but it may be a fragile achievement. Even in the green building community, cracks are starting to show.

The U.S. Green Building Council surveyed more than 500 people in the green building industry to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the workplace. The survey found that mothers have been hit especially hard. “Women who reported having children under the age of 18 grapple with mounting pressure to juggle their career alongside childcare and household responsibilities,” the report says, adding that women are facing “historic challenges.”

This is despite the fact that 86% of respondents reported feeling supported by their employers. Sixty-two percent still said the pandemic is negatively affecting workplace equity because of increased expectations at home.

“Household management still falls to women,” wrote one survey taker, “and it is mentally as well as physically overwhelming.” Another said, “I feel backed into a corner, to have to either choose between educating my children or striving to remain productive and generate sufficient funds.”

The report encourages employers to continue offering flexibility, and to host conversations so people have a chance to “share their feelings.”

For more information:

U.S. Green Building Council

Update: This article was updated November 10, 2020 to remove the controversial final paragraph.

Published November 9, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, October 22). Women in Green Building Hit Hard by Pandemic . Retrieved from

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November 10, 2020 - 12:41 am

I know this was not intended, but your last sentence makes it sound like women are to blame for not driving equity in their own homes. This may be true in some cases, but one of the biggest reasons that childcare and household management unequally fall on women is that women earn less in the workplace. While many partners have great intentions to be equal when it comes to all the work of running a house and caring for children, the person who earns less money is inevitably going to have the larger burden of these 'unpaid' jobs to make space for the primary wage earner to KEEP their job. It is a simple math equation and a brutal choice that many women are facing right now, even with the full support of their partners. So, kindly take that large helping of victim blaming and put it where it should be - on a society that has consistently undervalued women, and continues to fall well short of gender pay equity. 

November 10, 2020 - 9:12 am

You make an excellent point. Unfortunately, the report doesn't dive deep into those issues. I removed that final paragraph because I agree it sounded like victim blaming.

December 15, 2020 - 4:10 pm

Thanks, Paula. I knew it was not intended, and it definitely speaks to the issue that the report did not dive deeper into that particular issue. I wish I were more surprised by that oversight, but there are still a lot of societal assumptions and expectations about womens' preferences for homemaking over career-making that should be put into the dustbin of history.