Impact of the Pandemic

Been thinking lately about how this pandemic is affecting women.  We hear more men are dying from the coronavirus than women.  Perhaps there’s something about women’s physical bodies that we don’t understand.  Perhaps that’s because research has ignored women.  Maybe if we knew more, it might lead to a better understanding that would help us all.

And what is the long term economic impact of the pandemic on women?

I just listened to a NY Times Live Event, “COVID-19 and the Gender Divide” hosted by Francesca Donner, Gender Editor, NY Times. [I didn’t know they had a “gender editor,” did you?] Guests were Alisha Haridasani Gupta, Gender Reporter and Author, and writer of the NYT newsletter “In Her Words” and Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Adviser, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations.

Points from the event to ponder:

Crises amplify economic impact.  Factors that create lower economic status for women will in the short term make life more difficult.  The economic downturn will disproportionately have a female face because women are the predominate labor force in services.   With both men and women working from home, there may be a double burden on women, who traditionally carry the unpaid labor of home and care.  As we come out of this crisis, can we rebuild the care economy in a more equitable way?  It may happen structurally if men continue to work at home because their jobs allow it and women, who work predominately in the service industry, need to leave home to go to work.  Interesting.

Does stimulus aid from the government help women?  It could if it were directed to childcare and healthcare.  If schools stay closed while businesses open, women may disproportionately stay home while men go back to work, even if both were in the same business, thus possibly causing the move to equal opportunity to regress.  If women aren’t at the table where decisions are made, some issues will be ignored and women workers disadvantaged.

  Domestic violence and sexual assault. Lockdown measures surely affect women’s ability to get help.  The bigger question is why and how domestic violence and sexual assault is perpetuated. It will take a cultural shift to make a difference

Family planning, contraception, and abortion services should be considered essential. In some places, access to birth control and abortion services have been restricted, either by the tremendous needs for medical attention to the pandemic or by political opportunism.

Does the shock of a pandemic open minds to opportunities for change?  For better childcare?  For protecting black and brown women? For having a living wage for “essential” workers?

Lots to think about.




On June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the EQUAL PAY ACT.  And on the anniversary of that important date,  I’m staging a Virtual Book Launch for Women, Power, and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace, 2nd printing. [Found that date in my old 1971 calendar…..].  More details to come on the June 10, 2020 Virtual Book Launch.

Finally back in print, this book covers the landmark EEOC/AT&T adventure that helped establish affirmative action and equal opportunity for women in the largest company in the country. Yes, it’s about a “case,” but it’s more than that – it’s our story of the ups and downs of the years it took to get the old Bell System (AT&T and the Telephone Companies) to adjust to a new reality of women at work. With the Government working FOR women and a national feminist movement (NOW) snapping at the company’s heels, how could we lose?

The fiery battle for equal opportunity still smolders. After we get past the coronavirus crisis and get to work again as a country, the status of women is again going to be an issue.  The work world post-pandemic will be different – let’s make sure it starts off with equal opportunity.  Please comment with your ideas about what that new world will bring for working women.

See for more about the book.

On the edge…

It’s the contrast that gets me.  I’m home safe, well fed, with good work to do, books to read, opera to watch, friends on the phone.  What’s not to like?  Why are my tears just a thought away?

Because the world outside my door is in crisis.  People are suffering and dying, tired and frustrated.  The world as we knew it is gone.  In its place is chaos.  Chaos, even with heroes trying hard to solve problems and heal the sick.  Chaos that will make it difficult if not impossible for us to restore life as we knew it. I hope when we come through this there will be a better life somehow though we have no guarantee and no timetable.

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A conundrum in coronavirus statistics

I’d like to understand why the total numbers are said to say that more men than women die from coronavirus – when the situations seem to imply the opposite.  Specifically, more women than men are in nursing homes.  And, women outnumber men in nursing, a profession on the forefront of healthcare to patients.  I need to look up the numbers but there’s something puzzling here.

I do worry about equality of opportunity but this isn’t exactly an area where it matters.  In fact, it’s gruesome to even think about it.  Nonetheless I like to understand what is going on and the statistics I hear are puzzling.


Mark this down as the day I took back control over my life.

For the past month I have dutifully obeyed the rules of this new virus environment, and I will continue to do so with one not so subtle difference.  I CHOOSE to protect myself by doing all those things, like masks in public, etc.

For a month I took my hands off the wheel of my life and let its direction be controlled by a disease I don’t even have.  Yes, I will behave in a way so as not to get sick if I can, for it is a deadly and vicious disease.  But my days here at home will be treated as MINE, and I refuse to spend them in fear or frustration, or just let them slide by as I wait for things to get back to normal, which I’m sure they won’t.

Will I succeed in keeping out depression and low motivation?  No, but I will consciously frame my own days.  Just by saying this, I think I will clear the way for my passion about equal opportunity for women to return, and I will see new ways to communicate my thoughts. I’ve puttered around internet, learning about podcasts, zoom, etc, but puttering doesn’t make things happen – it’s a waiting activity and I’m not going to wait.  What for?  I have the time and the tools to make a difference, even here, even now.


During the coronavirus pandemic time has taken on new dimensions.

Sometimes it stands still and I get lost – is it Monday or Wednesday? Does it matter? My routines have changed or disappeared. My new reality is far less structured by time than my normal life; I’m still adjusting to that. Keeping a calendar is a useless activity.

Sometimes time closes in on me and I am frightened.  Will I continue to be safe tomorrow? This is a collective trauma and just because I am safe at home now doesn’t mean the threat is over. But, there’s not much more I can do to hide from it.

Sometimes time pressures me to be productive. All these free hours–I must do something useful!  Sunny Fitzgerald in today’s Washington Post had some good advice in his column, “Don’t feel like getting things done’? It’s okay not to be productive during a pandemic.”

This pandemic is a new experience and a significant threat, and we deal with it one day at a time.  It’s hard to plan ahead.  My new book is out and I want to promote it.  I sit down once in a while to figure out how to do a virtual book launch, read about how to do podcasts, think about all the people I want to tell about the book, and ponder corollary issues in equality for women.  The thoughts wander just like the days do, and time expands and contracts, keeping me from completing my plans.

I’m confident we will survive because we are resilient.  We have shown before that we have the audacity and courage to do so.  It’s just that time now swirls around us and tosses our plans around, and we can’t quite get things under control. I can’t even get my hair cut, and both my dog Moonlight and I are looking a bit shaggy.


Why read now?

Even now, maybe especially now when we are staying at home worrying about coronavirus, there’s time to read.  Read to learn, to enjoy, and to understand. Then be ready to act to bring about a better future.

Why read Women, Power, and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace?

The people in this book are real people, dealing with the world as they find it, and taking action to make it into the world they would like it to be.  The essence of the story is, on a small scale, how one person works to clear her own path.  On a larger scale, which I learned quickly by living it, we were working through the federal government to change the rules of the business game and to force corporations into opening the pathways for women and  minorities.


COVID-19 Interrupts Life

It’s a strange new world, with social distancing, businesses closed, thousands of people terribly ill and dying around the world.  Promoting a book seems somewhat inappropriate even though so many folks are home with time on their hands.  Well, some are, but then there are the families with children to entertain and teach and explain the new reality. As for me, I find each day seems like a separate entity. I wake to nothing on the calendar, what I used to see as “a free day.”

I feel the need to recognize that this isn’t just a crisis, this is a new way of life. In its restrictiveness, maybe it will only last for months, but in reality it will change our lives for a very long time.

Even though it seems relatively unimportant in the light of the virus attack on our world, I need to get in gear and put together a virtual book launch.  The story of women gaining opportunity back in the 1970s is still relevant. When we do come out of this stay-at-home mode, many women will be going back to work.  My guess is that they will find less equal opportunity than they left, for many reasons.  All the more reason why we will need to understand how we can work effectively to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity at work.  And that’s where my book and this blog will come in useful.

I’d like to get input from those who read this.  Reply to this post or send me an email with your ideas and concerns –  Follow my new website home devoted to this topic – or post on my Lois Kathryn Herr facebook page.



By out there, I mean Women, Power, and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace is on Amazon and B&N.  There’s a paperback edition AND a Kindle version.  No excuse not to get one of your own to read.  My print copies should arrive in a few days; I’m excited to have them in my hands.  I’ve been trying to get this back in print for five years.  A website just for this book  is going to be up soon – appropriately named

Those are the last three words of the book!



Exciting news from URLink….There’s a 2nd Printing of Women, Power, and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace.  We expect it to be online soon as both a paperback and eBook and available through Amazon and B&N as well as URLink within a few weeks.  The first printing was in 2003 – It went out of print in a few years and then the publisher Northeastern University Press went out of business.  This book is such a valuable record of the EEOC and AT&T Case that I wanted to bring it back to life. In 1973 the settling of that case was a landmark for affirmative action and equal opportunity for women in business.  It sports a new cover but it still the same wonderful story of how change can take place.