Shifting Inequality in the home

Covid 19 has made the burden of trying to juggle work and caring commitments visible like never before - could this be the turning point for a greater appreciation of the urgent need to reset and share the caring load?

Restrictions and lockdowns across the country forced many parents to step up, tending to multiple roles at once often working from bedrooms whilst trying to cater to the caring and learning needs of their children. For many, in particular fathers, it was the first time they’d ever attempted to work from at home with kids at their feet.

As we count the ‘gender inequality cost’ of the pandemic, research reveals that fathers did increase their contribution to domestic duties in 2020 but not to the same extent as mothers who “shouldered the greater share of Covid-generated childcare, housework, and homeschooling” (Alon et al. 2020; Carlson, Petts, and Pepin 2020; Craig and Churchill 2020; Heggeness and Fields 2020).

These greater demands of care significantly impacted women’s ability to work during this time. Compared to men, women experienced a more drastic reduction in paid work hours (Collins et al., forthcoming), and were more likely to exit the workforce altogether (Landivar et al. 2020) reinforcing traditional expectations of men as financial providers and women as homemakers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been far from a catalyst for unequal gender regimes to reinvent gender roles.”

(Ruppanner et all. 2021)

However, at least in Australia, according to joint University of Melbourne and University of North Texas research just published, it appears that we may be seeing a shift toward more egalitarian gender relations compared to the US.

But the question remains . . . will it last as we slowly shuffle back to everyday ‘norms’ post pandemic?


To read more on the research tap here: Shifting Inequalities? Parents’ Sleep, Anxiety, and Calm during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Australia and the United States by Leah Ruppanner, Xiao Tan, William Scarborough. First Published February 2, 2021 Research Article.


To find out how Parents At Work can support your employees - both working mums and dads - to balance work and family, and shift the gender divide email