When I started my publishing career in Washington in the early 2000s, women occupied a very small fraction of the Washington publishing boardrooms. Back then, I never met a female publishing executive who did not have at least one horrifying sexist or abusive #metoo story.

In the nearly two decades I have been in Washington I have seen professional women advance with breathtaking leaps and change the rules along the way. We may not have a woman occupying the Oval Office yet but there is good news: more and more women in executive positions has meant less tolerance of abusive behaviors in the workplace.

The bad news: COVID-19 happened. The pandemic forced professional women—some two million in the United States alone—to leave the workforce altogether.

World Bank data from 26,000 businesses collected across 50 countries shows women were more likely to close their businesses than men because of the pandemic and consequent social distancing policies.

Even though American women hold a high share in management (41%) and company boards (28%), they rank at No. 18 (in a group of 29 countries ranked) in the most recent Economist Glass-Ceiling Index. America received poor marks chiefly because of parental leave and political representation. And the World Economic Forum reports that it will take 99+ years to achieve gender parity in the workplace.

This Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day we are seeing history flowing backwards. So, what can be done to reverse this trend?

In this special issue we look at the post-pandemic world as an opportunity to build an equitable economy. Our cover story looks at the fields women are beginning to dominate and how women stand to benefit from the coming economic transformation.

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