Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg has career advice for working women during COVID-19

Sheryl Sandberg has a message for women working from home with a significant other – don’t take on their chores or you’ll be stuck doing them long term. 

The Facebook COO candidly discussed the new challenges and stresses that working women often take on while doing their jobs remotely during the pandemic. Her comments came during a sit-down with People, which touched on work-life balance and the equal distribution of domestic duties in the household. 

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. (REUTERS/Yana Paskova).

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. (REUTERS/Yana Paskova).

“I’ve been saying this forever, and I’m going to keep saying this: We need a better balance of work in the home,” Sandberg, 51, told People’s digital deputy editor Charlotte Triggs, addressing young women specifically, as they may find themselves picking up the slack when it comes to doing more chores. 

“For any young women, if you have a boyfriend, and you’re about to go do your boyfriend’s laundry: don’t do it! You’re going to be doing that guy’s laundry for the next five decades,” she said. 

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Those fortunate enough to have remote capabilities to work from home may be relishing the conveniences of having no commute, or being able to spend more time with loved ones. However, the merger of work and home life has taken a toll on some, particularly women, who are increasingly finding themselves struggling with the new normal of parenting through virtual learning, balancing household duties and working full-time jobs – and it’s motivating some to take a step back from their careers, new research suggests. 

One in four women is considering working fewer hours or leaving their jobs altogether during the pandemic, according to the 2020 annual Women in the Workplace report from Sandberg’s Lean In, a career site aimed at helping women get ahead in their careers, and consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Those surveyed who were parents said child care was the top reason for considering the change,

The report looked at the impact COVID-19 has had on working women. 

“Working mothers have always worked a ‘double shift’ – a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this even possible for women – including school and child care – have been upended,” the report says.

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The average woman is clocking in around 70 hours per week of household work when factoring in care for any little ones; the average man is doing about 50 hours of the same chores, according to the report. And single mothers are much more likely than other parents to do all the housework and take care of the kids in their home, as opposed to single dads, according to the report. They also say the finances are their top concern during the pandemic

The report goes on to note that companies now have an opportunity to invest in flexible employee benefits to help assist with child care, or risk having even fewer female seats at boardroom tables. 

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