It is officially Summer! Educators, students, and parents have made it through another year of virtual, hybrid, and in-person teaching (social distancing and masked). Woo! Woo!
It is the time of year when I’d be attending the International Association for Feminist Economists (IAFFE) annual conference, which is being held in Quito, Ecuador (virtually). This will be my last year on the Board, so I am honored to have been selected at the opening plenary. The title of my talk was “Hidden in the Aggregate: Crises and Solutions.” Below are some of the slides from my presentation.
Sometimes, I feel there is no more to be said about the importance of disaggregating data, but then I’ll hear a statistic that reminds me of all the work to be done. My presentation yesterday was an opportunity to show the importance of disaggregating data with respect to childcare.
Parents not working because of childcare
For example, taking a look at the banal disaggregation by race X gender and ethnicity X gender, we see that mothers relative to men were more likely to give “I am/was caring for children not in school or daycare” as the reason for not working between April 23, 2020, and March 29, 2021. Black men gave this reason more frequently than other men. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. Percentage of Men and Women Who Reported Childcare As Reason for Not Working
Education and Marital Status Matter
When we disaggregate the data by education and education X marital status, we see that the different groups of mothers did not experience challenges with childcare the same. For example, Black mothers with no high school diploma reported childcare, as the reason for not working, more frequently than other racial or ethnic groups of mothers. However, when we examine how education and marital status together influence childcare as a barrier to working during the pandemic, we find that the group “other” reported that barrier most frequently. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2. Percentage of Mothers Who Reported Childcare as Reason for Not Working: No High School Diploma and Marital Status
There is less disparity in the frequency that mothers with high school diplomas reported childcare as a barrier to working during the pandemic. (See Figure 3.)
Figure 3. Percentage of Mothers Who Reported Childcare as Reason for Not Working: High School Diploma and Marital Status
Nearly one out of every three Asian mothers and “other” mothers with a bachelor’s degree reported childcare as a barrier to working during the pandemic. Black mothers with a bachelor’s had the lowest frequency of reporting childcare as a barrier to not working. (See Figure 4.)
Figure 4. Percentage of Mothers Who Reported Childcare as Reason for Not Working: Bachelor’s Degree and Marital Status
The Household Pulse Survey Data, which I used for the analysis provided, is a rich dataset to answer questions about the effect of the pandemic on broad groups in America but does not allow for a microanalysis to look at how occupations affect mothers’ ability to manage work and childcare responsibilities.
As I advocate for scholars to disaggregate data by the characteristics that influence an outcome, I always add the caveat that data may limit how granular the analysis can be. I point out that it is important to let the reader know that you did not assume homogeneity in experiences.
Happy first week of summer!