Women’s efforts to catch up to men financially are being set back by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Michelle Connell, founder and owner of Portia Capital Management, a wealth management firm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In particular, women’s attempts to plan for retirement are being negatively impacted by the crisis, said Connell, whose firm works with divorced and retired women, as well as foundations and institutions.

It is well known that women in the workforce are still at a financial disadvantage compared to men. Women live longer, meaning they need larger retirement savings. They are more likely to have taken time off or worked part time to take care of children, and on average they make less than men. All of which means their Social Security benefits will be less than men’s benefits and they will not have saved as much as men during their working years, Connell noted.

Women also put themselves at a disadvantage because they are less likely to take investing risks even while they are young.

“The pandemic has made those situations worse,” Connell said. “Women are employed in jobs that have been hit hard by Covid-19, such as education and non-essential service areas. Many are in jobs that are on the low end of the income spectrum.”

The United Nation’s International Labor Organization recently said, “The coronavirus and its economic consequences threaten to wipe out progress on gender equality at work as women are at greater risk of losing their job, more likely to be exposed to infection, and [more likely to] take on the burden of unpaid care.”

At the same time, “if remote working becomes more prevalent after the immediate crisis has passed, policymakers will need to ensure that it does not exacerbate the already uneven division of unpaid care, with women more likely to work from home while men return to the office,” the organization said.

Of the women who lost jobs during the pandemic, only a minority will be able to find new jobs at the same pay that they were receiving before, Connell said.

“Women also are still less likely to be as financially literate as men,” she added, “and the ‘graying’ of divorce is making women’s financial situation worse.”

According to a J.P. Morgan Asset Management study, the rate of divorce for couples more than 50 years of age doubled between 1990 and 2010 and two-thirds of those divorces were initiated by women.

“Women need to manage now for risk in case the market has another pull back,” Connell said, “and they need to look at long-term planning if they are to maintain their lifestyle in later life.”