California Educator

February/March 2021

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summer taking free budgeting seminars, fig- uring out meal planning and learning to cook. When we both worked , we had the luxur y of takeout meals. Now I 'm cooking all the time, w hi ch i s ironi c, b e cau se e ven th ou g h I 'm a chemistry teacher, I'm not the best cook." Martinez says her family is "cutting corners," tightening their belt and relying on savings. Her husband has taken on side jobs and extra hours at his job to make ends meet. She has also taken on a side job scoring writing assessments for a testing company that prepares students for stan- dardized tests on the East Coast. "Compared to what I was making, it's nothing. But every little bit helps. It's something I can do at home, and it keeps my mind active." What's the impact on society? With women being pushed out of the workplace, experts fear that decades of progress will be undone in terms of gender pay equity and opportunity. " Women's disproportionate responsibilities at home were already a major contributing factor to their lower pay and diffi- culty advancing at work," asserts a December story at "Now men will have an even greater advantage when it comes to increased opportunities, promotions and raises." "It's unfair," says Rondeau. "Women carry the children during pregnancy — and also during the pandemic." The long-term consequences for those who quit or go on l eav e in clu d e l e ss retirem ent money for the future. Teachers who go on per- sonal leave have their retirement funds put on hold while they are not in the classroom. And many already had their retirement held while on maternity leave. Teachers pushed out during the pandemic may decide not to return to teaching when they reenter the workplace, which will no doubt exac- erbate the teacher shortage. Strong Ortega believes that women exiting the workforce is not just bad for women — it's bad for everybody. "It's not setting a good example for our students or our chil- dren in terms of women taking a hit and being considered expendable," she says. "How long will it take to get our jobs back when this is over? Will our jobs be there when this is over?" Martinez, who has a master's degree, plans on rejoining the workforce, but isn't sure whether it will be as a teacher. "I want to be a role model for my daughter and show her a woman can succeed as much as a man. But being a woman is hard. We have to juggle it all. We wear many hats. We have many roles. And the pandemic is stretching us very, very thin." " In addition to being a financial kick in the pants, [being on unpaid leave] is difficult because being a teacher is my identity and who I am." — Stacey Strong Ortega, Orange Unified Education Association Maniscalco's 7-year-old son, left, and 5-year-old daughter, below, attend online class. When Stacey Strong Ortega finished teaching remotely, she and her children worked together in their living room. 37 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 0 21 Erika Martinez

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