“Once you leave the corporate treadmill,” she said, “you can actually catch your breath. Something does change inside of you.”
Many other women can’t afford to be so choosey, even if they’d like to. Tens of millions of working women, many of them people of color, labor in low-wage jobs and struggle to afford rent, food, utilities and other necessities.
“There may be labor shortages, but lots of folks are working right now and do so because there is really no choice,” said Debra Lancaster, executive director for the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. “They need to work to put food on their table.”
Ashley Thomas, who is in her early 40s, said her sabbatical from her job as a public policy advocate is just temporary but a much-needed respite to more deeply consider her career options.
“I had this opportunity to take a step back and just take a breather — because I have been working hard my entire adult life,” Thomas said. “This is not a permanent break. It’s a temporary break.”
There was no single trigger, Thomas said, for her decision to leave her job as a public policy advocate based in Jacksonville, Florida. The virus played a role, although even she is uncertain how much a factor it was.
“I have family members who are elderly and maybe not in the best of health that I was very worried about,” she said. “We have two teenagers here who were home from school, and this is a really hard time for them to just sort of be out of school and not be interacting with their friends as much.”