2021: Win, Lose, or Draw?

December 9, 2021


The year 2021 was a mixed bag for women, with momentous gains notched alongside disheartening losses. 

 On the plus side, we saw the first woman – who is also the first woman of color – sworn in as Vice President of the United States. We saw a historic number of women take their seats in Congress, in the President’s Cabinet, as mayors of large cities, and in state legislatures. We saw a record number of women hired to lead key news outlets.

On the loss side, we saw the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate the gender inequalities that had already existed.  “Women disproportionately lost jobs, disproportionately reduced their work hours, and disproportionately increased the time they spent on child care and household responsibilities,” said Andrea Kramer, a lawyer who advises organizations on how to achieve a truly diverse workplace. 

Indeed, the pandemic hit women much harder than men as close to 2 million women were forced to drop out of the workforce, usually because of childcare issues. It’s unclear how many of these women will return to the workplace.

The pandemic also led to a decline in women being hired for leadership roles – a painful step back.

As we look forward to welcoming a new year, here is a more detailed listing of some of the most important gains and losses for American women during 2021.



 Happy News

Jan Collins 2021-circle-crop

Jan Collins is a Columbia, South Carolina-based journalist, editor, and author. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard and former Congressional Fellow in Washington, D. C., she is the coauthor of Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life (Quill Driver Books, 2009).

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