The Future of Work: Disruptions & Solutions for Colorado Women

Women’s labor force participation is critical for the economic mobility of families and for the growth of the state’s economy. Yet, just as women’s historical workforce participation has been plagued by inequities, the future of work for women is fraught with the potential for equity gaps to grow. COVID-19 accelerated preexisting trends in automation and occupational segregation and catalyzed new shifts in women’s work.

Key Findings

  • Occupational segregation drives women’s workforce outcomes. Women’s overrepresentation in low-wage industries like retail and food service resulted in lower wages and reduced labor force participation during the pandemic.
  • The care economy is broken. Child care and unpaid caregiving remains a barrier to women’s workforce participation. There is an insufficient supply of caregivers due to below-living wages. Further, care (when available) is prohibitively costly to most Colorado families.
  • Black women saw the largest persistent declines in labor force participation since the pandemic.

This brief, the final iteration in our Future of Work and Women series, underscores the degree to which the care economy relies on women to work, and the degree to which it fails to support women in the workforce. Additionally, this brief shows how occupational segregation keeps women from achieving workforce equity. This historical moment of pandemic recovery presents an opportunity to ensure that women’s equity is central to all workforce policy and programs.

To ensure the future of work is more equitable for women, this brief analyzes current forces driving women’s workforce participation. We then present a series of recommendations to ensure Colorado is the best state for women to work.

To catch up with our previous work on this topic, read our past briefs:

This brief was funded by a grant from The Women’s Foundation of Colorado made with support from The Chambers Fund, a donor-advised fund of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.