University of Southern California
USC Dornsife: College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Women Putting in Work

Women Putting in Work: The Economic Self-Determination of Women and Girls in Post-COVID Los Angeles County

Summer 2021

By USC Equity Research Institute

Women Putting in Work creates a baseline of understanding of women in LA County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women and girls have always been in a more precarious position, especially if they are women of color, immigrants, gender non-conforming, or hold other marginalized identities. This report both identifies the systemic inequities holding women back, in conversation with their resilience. Ultimately, it offers a set of recommendations for how to change policy so that women are not required to be resilient – so that they live in a world that sees them and supports them.

Download the report>>





The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped through the heart of the Los Angeles region. Few have been left unscathed, least of all women of color—Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Latina, mixed race, and others as well as non-cisgender women, the elderly, those with disabilities, and immigrants.

In December 2020, in the depths of the shut-down, it was reported that while there were economic gains, in the middle of a pandemic economy, net job losses were going to women. Women have carried the brunt of the economic pain.

So how will women rebuild? What can we do, countywide, to shoulder and unload the burden? 

Here are a few of the recommendations from our report. 


Support in-home and frontline workers who are laboring hard, often with little support. 


 Support caregivers in or out of the home and a robust education system that centers learners who have been left behind.


Communities of color have systematically been denied equal education long after Brown v. Board, and the digital divide has deepened that inequity.


Ensure access, mobility, and voice for immigrants regardless of status.


With nearly one million women and girls impacted by the federal government’s initial exclusion of undocumented people and those in their households, and our nation’s ongoing exploitation of immigrants for cheap work without dignity or adequate remuneration in return (many such women are, indeed, domestic workers as just mentioned), immigrants must be centered in recovery. They have been harmed in this pandemic, and their wellbeing is our wellbeing.


 End homelessness and secure affordable housing for all.


The racialized—and anti-Black—housing and homelessness crises were pre-existing conditions worsened by the pandemic. In 2020, there was a 51 percent increase in homeless women fleeing domestic violence / intimate partner violence. Project Roomkey, eviction moratoria, and rent relief have shown us solutions when we thought none existed; it’s time to double down for long-term progress.


Continue the push towards universal health coverage and vaccine equity. In light of the current pandemic, it is critical for everyone to have access to medical support. 


California has made considerable progress towards making health insurance accessible for all its residents but still has work to do to provide access for immigrants and their loved ones, especially for Latinas—U.S.-born and otherwise. Part of this is making it possible for all people to access vaccines, which may be hardest for those without cars, flexible employers, or internet access. A vaccine gap remains among Latina and African American women that may be fueled, in part, by distrust in government.

Check out more of our recommendations inside the report.

Download data graphics>>

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