Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Home Health Mothers bear the cost of the pandemic shift to remote work: The...

Mothers bear the cost of the pandemic shift to remote work: The pandemic exposed and reinforced gender-biased household divisions of labor, study finds

For many mother and father, the COVID-19 pandemic has made life’s on a regular basis juggling act — managing work, faculty, extracurricular, and household tasks — a lot, a lot more durable. And in accordance to a brand new study led by Penn sociologists, these additional burdens have fallen disproportionately on moms.

The analysis, shared in the April concern of the journal Gender and Society, investigated how shifts in work and faculty that arose due to the pandemic triggered adjustments in the division of labor in households. Using information on two-parent households from a nationwide survey performed in April 2020, the researchers discovered that gender disparities in unpaid labor had been most obvious when a mom was the solely mum or dad working from residence, or when neither mum or dad was ready to work remotely.

“It turns out that when the mother is working remotely and her partner isn’t, she ends up taking on a ton more responsibilities,” says Jerry Jacobs, a sociology professor in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and one of the paper’s authors. “When a father is working remotely and his partner isn’t, somehow he doesn’t take on as much extra work. This seems to be a deeply gendered issue.”

As the pandemic has worn on, the toll on girls has been laborious to ignore. Each month, lots of of hundreds of girls misplaced their jobs or dropped out of the workforce to meet new calls for at residence.

Yet remote work additionally appeared to open the chance of higher fairness between the genders in home accountability, as two mother and father could be at residence and accessible.

To tease out the results of a shift to remote work on home labor throughout the pandemic, Jacobs, Penn doctoral pupil Allison Dunatchik, and colleagues turned to information from a New York Times survey, performed by advertising and marketing analysis agency Morning Consult. Of 2,200 respondents, 478 had been partnered mother and father, and 151 had been single mother and father.

While the gender of every survey respondent’s associate was unknown, the gender of the respondents themselves performed a key function in how the pandemic affected their home tasks, which, with youngsters largely at residence, elevated throughout the board.

Families the place each companions labored remotely had the most egalitarian break up of household and parenting duties, the researchers discovered. Both moms and fathers reported related will increase in housekeeping and childcare tasks, in addition to in the strain they felt about managing their youngsters’s education. Yet even this best-case-scenario was imbued with gender disparity, as pre-pandemic disparities endured. Mothers working remotely whose companions had been additionally had been greater than twice as doubtless as fathers to report being the associate primarily chargeable for housekeeping and baby care.

When just one mum or dad labored remotely and the different labored out of the residence, the gender disparity in home labor was much more evident. Mothers who labored from residence primarily absorbed the additional labor, whereas fathers who labored remotely reported much less uptake of the additional housekeeping and baby care than both moms working from residence alone or fathers who labored at residence together with their associate.

“The disparity, how this affected remote dads versus remote moms, was just so stark,” says Jacobs. “Even for a hard-boiled, data-driven sociologist like me, I was surprised.”

“I had a similar reaction,” Dunatchik says. “It’s interesting when you compare the fathers working remotely alone to the fathers whose partners are also working from home. There’s something interesting about the partner dynamics, it seems, that makes fathers more likely to pitch in in the presence of a partner.”

When neither associate was ready to work remotely, once more moms bore the brunt of the additional labor. In these {couples}, moms had been twice as doubtless as fathers to report will increase in time spent on household labor and had been seven instances as doubtless to say they had been the individual chargeable for the majority of youngsters’s residence studying.

While the survey information had solely 151 responses from single mother and father, most of which had been girls, the researchers discovered that, maybe unsurprisingly, single moms had been spending extra time on home labor, although they had been much less doubtless to have elevated their time spent on housekeeping throughout the pandemic than partnered moms. “They were also less likely to report feeling significant pressure about their children’s home learning compared to partnered mothers,” says Dunatchik.

The survey was performed about one month into the pandemic, so the researchers can solely speculate about the lingering influence on gendered division of labor. Yet the researchers’ findings present a window into the pressures that will have pushed some girls’s voluntary exit from the labor market. As extra youngsters return to in-person faculty, “some of that pressure will be reduced,” Jacobs says. The longer-term impacts on girls’s seniority and loss of wages, nonetheless, might be vital and enduring, he says even when they do finally return to full-time work.

One silver lining of the pandemic’s “natural experiment” on remote work, the researchers say, could also be elevated work flexibility. With extra alternatives for all mother and father to work at home, there could also be extra alternatives to transfer towards a extra egalitarian division of tasks. “That’s something that scholars have been pushing for a long time,” Jacobs says.

Allison Dunatchik is a doctoral pupil in the Department of Sociology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences.

Jerry Jacobs is a professor of sociology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts & Sciences.

In addition to Dunatchik and Jacobs, coauthors of the study had been Kathleen Gerson of New York University and Jennifer Glass and Haley Strizel of the University of Texas at Austin.

The analysis was supported partially by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant CHD042849).

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