Every recession is different.

But all the economic downturns of the past decades had one thing in common: They were crises that hit men far harder on the labor market than women - because, for example, mainly male-dominated jobs in industry were dropped, while jobs preferred by women got off lightly.

Corona represents a break in this regard.

It was the first global downturn in which working women suffered more economically than working men.

It was the first she-assignment in a series of he-assignments.

Only in Germany does the trend seem not to be so clear.

Here, female workers have been becoming more and more important for decades, and the year 2020 has probably not changed anything - despite the setback.

In Europe the figures are clear: In the European Union, the unemployment rate, which is calculated somewhat differently than the unemployment rate of the Federal Employment Agency, rose to seven percent for men, but 7.6 percent for women were looking for a job in the fourth quarter.


"Women were hit much harder by the crisis, and for very different reasons," says Kristin Keveloh, who heads the Economic Graph project at the professional network LinkedIn, which allows movements in the job market to be evaluated in real time.

Source: WORLD infographic

For one thing, women would often work in industries that are particularly hard hit by the crisis, such as tourism, retail and consumer goods.

On the other hand, women are more likely to work in jobs that require a lot of contact and are therefore difficult to do from home.

The data from the Employment Network suggest that the recruitment rate of women has plummeted more than that of men.

Keveloh speaks of two to six percent less worldwide.

"That doesn't sound like a big difference at first, but since women are already underrepresented on the job market, these cuts are difficult to make up for."

Source: WORLD infographic


In addition, women applied less during the recession.

In Germany, for example, female LinkedIn members sent almost 13 percent fewer applications than men.

“Reasons for this could be, for example, the additional burden of looking after children and relatives, as well as greater uncertainty.

Women generally apply less and more selectively, which means that they tend to meet more criteria for the positions they are applying for than men.

This could have intensified during the crisis. "

At first glance, the data from the European statistical office, Eurostat, seem to contradict these observations.

The EU statisticians show higher female employment in Germany in 2020 than in the previous year - in contrast to almost all other countries.

Eurostat changed the survey


Other labor market experts do not consider the data to be meaningful, especially since Eurostat also points out in a footnote that a change in the survey method in 2020 may have led to distortions.

Some even consider the employment rate to be the wrong measure when it comes to assessing who is bearing the economic burden of the recession.

"In the corona crisis, the adjustment to the labor market has been and continues to be much more intense via the working hours per capita - above all through short-time work - than through layoffs and other changes in the employment status," says Sebastian Link, economist and labor market expert at the Ifo Institute in Munich.

"If you look at the working hours per capita, women have reduced these more than men."

In fact, the figures from the Federal Agency also show that unemployment has increased more among women than among men.

In March 2021, 23 percent more women in gainful employment were looking for jobs than when the corona pandemic broke out in March 2020, while the rise in unemployment for men was a fifth.

Source: WORLD infographic

A scientific study by the economists Titan Alon, Sena Coskun, Matthias Doepke, David Koll and Michèle Tertilt examined the phenomenon of you assignment in more detail.

The study entitled “From Mancession to Shecession: Women's Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions” gets to the bottom of the connections.

As far as the effects of Corona on employment are concerned, the researchers note a “gender gap”.

In economies as diverse as the USA, Canada and Germany, lockdown and other pandemic defense measures would have caused problems especially for those workers who could not do their work from home, for example in stationary retail.

But there is also a gender gap when working from the home or mobile office.

For women who do telework, productivity fell more during the pandemic than for men who work from home.

Presumed reason: Working mothers are more tied to childcare than working men.

The number of working mothers has risen sharply

"The corona pandemic is a major challenge, especially for working parents," write the experts from the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden.

After all, three out of four mothers (74.7 percent) had a job in this country when the pandemic began.


So many parents have never had to manage the balancing act between work and family, which was made all the more difficult by forced homeschooling.

Ten years ago, the proportion of working mothers in Germany was significantly lower, namely 66.7 percent.

“However, women with children are still much less likely to work than men in the same family situation,” says Wiesbaden.

For comparison: the proportion of employed fathers remained almost constant over the same period and was around 93 percent before the recession.

Overall, increasing female employment has been one of the megatrends of the past decades, especially in Germany.

The employment rate of 77 percent in 2020 was still below that of men at 83 percent, but the proportion of women in professional life has risen by no less than 16 percent since 2000, clearly more than for men, where the plus was just under seven percent - and also significantly higher than the European average.

The Federal Republic of Germany is now one of the countries with one of the highest female employment rates in Europe, only in Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland are women employed more frequently.

Turkey and Greece have the lowest female employment rates.

However, women in Germany are more likely to be found in poorly paid jobs than men, which from the point of view of many observers makes the thesis of the Sie-Assignment plausible.

"In relative terms, more women in Germany work in mini jobs and precarious jobs than men," says Carsten Brzeski, ING's chief economist.

Mini-jobs, on the other hand, are mostly located in the service sectors that have been hit by the lockdown.

Looking at the statistics, Brzeski would also have considered a decline in female employment to be likely.

In addition to the distortion caused by the change in the survey method, it is conceivable that the temporary reopening of shops in the fourth quarter and the upturn in the job economy stabilized the employment rate for women.

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