Women wearing face masks in downtown San Diego. Courtesy San Diego County

At least 70% of women statewide have suffered mild to severe anxiety during the pandemic and more than half reported experiencing depression, according to new research.

The 2021 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California found that demographic disparities are evident when it comes to impacts from COVID-19.

Latinos, for instance, make up 39% of California’s population, but represent 47% of all COVID-19 deaths.

The study further determined that among Californians who had planned to pursue an advanced degree in fall 2020, more than one-third canceled plans for postsecondary study, while the remaining adults modified their plans.

Nearly half of Black households with students canceled all postsecondary studies for fall 2020.

The Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles produced the report.

“While the coronavirus may not have been anticipated by most of us, its impact should not surprise us,” said MSMU President Ann McElaney-Johnson. “The people most affected by the dual public health and economic crises of 2020 are the ones who were already the most vulnerable among us – including too many of our women, children, people of color and immigrants. As the data in this report highlight, the ramifications of COVID-19 have merely underscored the inequities that already existed.”

According to the university, the coronavirus has uniquely affected California’s women and girls. Record numbers of women have left the workforce, and for an entire year, women have delayed medical care and experienced increased anxiety all while holding their families and communities together.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • In February 2020, California women and men each had a 5% unemployment rate. As the pandemic raged, men’s unemployment rate rose to 20%. Women’s peaked in the spring at 25%;
  • Due to the pandemic, up to 47% of California women delayed needed medical care in 2020;
  • For families with one or both parents working from home, 41% say mothers provide the majority of extra childcare responsibilities compared to just 15% who say the father does;
  • 42% of working women statewide are employed in essential jobs; and
  • 29% of women feel that working from home has had a positive effect on their career, compared with 57% of men.

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