Silvia Quintero rings up a customer at the Hicklebee's store in Downtown Willow Glen, in Santa Clara County, Calif., on June 15, 2021. The children's bookstore plans to continue mask mandate for the foreseeable future. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News)

In a presentation to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the county’s Women’s Committee said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has held back many women from rejoining the workforce because of parental obligations.

The board formed the San Joaquin County Women’s Committee in December in order to improve the conditions and status of women throughout the county and implement gender-equitable policies and allocations of resources and services for women.

Members told the board that the pandemic set women’s labor force participation back more than 30 years, partially due to lack of childcare providers and mothers’ parental obligations.

For example, due to current COVID-19 protocols at schools, children who present even the slightest signs of being sick are sent home, which often forces mothers to stay home with their child and not attend work.

“How are our female employees supposed to go back to work if there aren’t childcare providers?” Supervisor Kathy Miller said. “We heard about what COVID has done to the workforce, yet most of our economic development discussions aren’t centering on how many childcare providers have closed up shop and gone out of business.”

Miller said the committee wants to analyze how resources funded by countywide taxes are distributed to ensure that equity for women is happening in the county.

Members of the committee also showed the board statistics showing that although the county government contains 61.70 percent female employees, males continue to dominate higher-level positions.

For instance, in middle management positions with the county, there are 242 employees and 51.65 percent are women. However, out of the county’s nine elected officials, only two are women.

Additionally, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women earn less than their same race and ethnicity counterpart at every level of educational attainment and in nearly all occupations.

The Women’s Committee will continue to meet to address these systematic issues and find services and solutions to help improve equity throughout the county, and updates will be presented to the board.