According to the World Health Organization, women make up to 70% of the health care sector as nurses, doctors, and lab technicians and other front-line workers that are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. While there is nothing in the virus’ pathogenicity that discriminates between gender, women in the healthcare sector are three times as likely as their male colleagues to get infected by the virus.
Nurses, the majority of which are female, have a high chance of being infected by a Covid-19 positive patient. As seen in the US, the government has neglected to send proper PPE to hospitals, leaving many nurses wearing garbage bags over their scrubs and scrounging for clean masks. Furthermore, long-term care workers, hospital janitorial staff, and personal-care workers are typically made up of women from lower-class backgrounds. These jobs push them into close contact with others, including those who may be infected with Covid-19.
The vulnerability of all these women has not been thoroughly addressed nor has the impact their position has on their mental health by the provincial or federal branches of government mounting their pandemic response. In fact, in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney intends to continue cutting funding to the province’s healthcare budget, leaving many women’s jobs unprotected once the pandemic is over.
When we thank our front-line workers, remember the additional strain and susceptibility women face. Women only make up 30% of global health leaders, which does not reflect how many women are in the healthcare field. Most of these jobs have a glass ceiling, barring women from advancing to the upper levels. Now that the pandemic has shed some light on the state of women in healthcare, in the future, I hope to see more women achieving equal pay to that of their male colleagues and increased opportunities for advancement.