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Gender gaps at home and work will widen because of Coronavirus

According to recently published research, more women will lose their jobs than men during and after the Coronavirus. This will widen the gender gap at both home and work.

The London School of Economics carried out a study which concluded that in the long term there would be a ‘substantial shift’ in gender roles. This is due directly by the coronavirus.

Both Dr Claudia Hupkau and Professor Barbara Petrongolo, who handled the study, predicted that in predominantly female sectors such as hospitality, there would be a heavy loss of jobs.

Hospitality is one of the sectors which has been hit the worst by coronavirus and related restrictions, leaving the greatest distribution of job losses, mainly of female staff.

The study, entitled ‘Work, care and gender during the Covid-19 crisis’ also showed that due to the closure of schools and childcare places more women stayed at home and cared for their children there. This has led, and will lead in the future, to an increase in the division of care in families.

 The report does acknowledge that with working from home becoming a more acceptable situation, more women could benefit in the long term.

The study showed that in the UK 48% of women have jobs which can be carried out from their homes. This is compared to 39% of men who can work from home.

Additionally, as women value flexibility more than men, remote working offers more opportunities that it does to male employees.

In the UK, the study showed that in 20% of homes where there are both mother and father with dependent children, childcare chores were shared more equally. This is due to the father either working from home or not working at all.

What could force the evolution towards more gender norms will be situations where the mother works in a critical sector such as the NHS and the father stays at home. This will cause an acceleration towards more equitable roles in the family.

Professor Petrongolo said that the report showed the Covid-19 virus is widening the gap at work. Women are more likely to lose their jobs than male colleagues. In homes, it is women who are handling the bulk of childcare.

The report also showed that there are a ‘substantial minority’ of families where the father plays a greater part in childcare than the mother.

The way we will need to adapt our working lives during the lockdown in order to cope with restrictions should give us hope that in the future a more equal society will emerge.

Dr Hupkau commented that women are facing great challenges because they account for most front-line positions. They are more at risk of losing their jobs due to the sector of hospitality being classed as high risk.

Previous studies, said Dr Hopkau, have proved that women value flexible working conditions and appreciate the opportunity to work from home.

If these conditions remain in place as the economy recovers, parents would be able to combine work and family commitments.

Dr Hopkau concluded by saying that during the Second World War and the influx of women into the labour market, there was a permanent change for job opportunities which has continued over the later decades.

‘Maybe, on looking back one day, the Covid-19 crisis will prove to be a similar turning point.’

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