Women’s Summit Q&A with Sarah Verser
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Our WBRC Women’s Summit brought together five dynamic leaders to pool resources and information together for women still struggling to make their next moves out of this pandemic.
Dr. LaRhonda Magras is CEO of the YWCA of Central Alabama (ywcabham.org or call 205-322-9922). Dr. Magras acknowledges the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women of color and says, women are often on the front lines in service industry jobs and hospitality jobs that disappeared during the lockdowns and many women still have not recovered from the economic and physical damage from the pandemic. It really irritates her to hear some people say there are so many empty job positions because people just don’t want to work. She says she sees the real obstacles women face in reentering the job market including child care and transportation costs. Then there is domestic violence Magras says the number of calls coming into the YWCA is on track to surpass the 2,255 calls from last year. The Y offers services to women to get out of violent situations and counseling.
Economist, Dr. Stephanie Yates the Chair of Accounting and Finance of the Collat School of Business at UAB says many of those businesses that never reopened were owned by women of color. She says now, we’re in a strange dichotomy where goods and services are in high demand, but in low supply along with a shortage of people to fill positions during a boom in job creation. Right now, workers are demanding higher pay and better benefits from employers. Dr. Yates says the experts are looking to women to solve the problems in the economy right now by coming back to the workforce which really puts women in the driver’s seat to make those demands.
Dr. Cynthia Anthony is the President of Lawson State Community College (http://www.lawsonstate.edu/) recognized as one of the top community colleges in the nation . Dr. Anthony says now is a good time for women to reevaluate their choices and set new courses for their lives. Lawson offers workforce development training and educational opportunities without massive school loans debt.
Dr. LaWanza Webb is the WIOA Programs Manager\Grants Administrator for Jefferson County Community Services & Workforce DevelopmentCAPTE (mycapte.org). She says they serve a number areas beyond Jefferson County including Shelby, Saint Clair, Blount, Chilton counties and the Jasper area all in region 4 offering training. Dr. Webb says she is seeing more women going into nontraditional fields including truck driving and welding. During the shutdowns for covid her office has been able to assist women with child care. She also says the problem is not women who don’t want to work, it’s getting a wage they can live on and an environment that welcomes women.
Access to quality childcare has become more than problematic, it’s a crisis for many women. It’s the main reason many women give for not re-entering the job force. While some wages are up, the inflated cost of food and gas appears to swallow up any gains they make in salaries. So, affording good childcare is a major obstacle.
Joan Wright is Executive Director of Childcare Resources and is an advocate for access to quality childcare, serving in Blount, Shelby, Walker, and Jefferson county. Childcare Resources offers child care training, financial assistance to pay for childcare for working families who qualify, a guide to choosing quality child care and more. (www.cr-bham.org or 205-945-0018) It is also a head start and early head start provider. Wright says another resource is DHR which has also increased the income scale to make more families eligible for financial assistance in paying for childcare. Wright says the pandemic has changed the landscape of childcare available. She says a large percentage of facilities never reopened after the shutdown.
Within this story we’ve included websites for you to explore more resources available through the organizations our guests represent.
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