Women are taking on more of the childcare during lockdown – but men are more likely to say ‘household responsibilities’ are getting in the way of their job.
Researchers at Kings College London analysed interviews with more than 2,200 UK residents aged between 16 and 74 during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Four out of every ten fathers said having to do ‘caring and domestic duties’ negatively affected their paid work – just three in ten women said the same.
Men and women were equally likely to say their caring and domestic responsibilities had increased during lockdown – around a third of both said this had happened.
Mothers said they are currently spending seven hours in an average weekday on childcare, compared with five hours for fathers.
Women claimed that they were finding the pandemic harder to cope with than men – with 37 per cent saying they found it stressful compared to 25 per cent of men.
More than half of women questioned by Ipsos Mori said they feel more anxious or depressed than usual, compared to 43 per cent of men.
Professor Rosie Campbell, director of the global institute for women’s leadership at Kings College London, said women have always done more childcare than men.
‘Despite the pandemic putting home and work lives under strain, fathers don’t appear to be helping out with the children more,’ said Campbell.
‘But they do seem to be getting a bigger shock from having to balance their caring and domestic responsibilities with new ways of working – which may reflect the fact they are simply less used to combining both types of work.’
She said this ‘unexpected disruption’ of typical gender roles could ‘be a catalyst for a more equitable sharing of paid and unpaid work’.
‘Less optimistically, women’s greater vulnerability to stress and anxiety may be linked to the heightened economic and social impacts many are experiencing as a result of this crisis, as revealed by other research.’
Kully Kaur-Ballagan, research director at Ipsos MORI, said childcare was one of the foundations of gender inequality and this doesn’t seem to have changed.
‘With the burden falling unduly on women and the lockdown is making that ever more clear,’ she said of the findings from the survey.
‘If men want to help in the fight for gender equality this research shows the hard work starts at home.
‘Some men are taking on more responsibilities, which is positive, but it is sad that they are made to feel it is harming their work.’
Away from the world of work, there are indications that the pandemic and lockdown are affecting women more, according to the study.
Of those questioned, 37 per cent said coroanvirus was stressful, compared to 25 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women said they were more anxious than usual.
While men and women report volunteering during the crisis at roughly the same rates, there are some differences in other behaviours.
Nearly 70 per cent of women said they’d offered to help friends, family and neighbours during the pandemic – compared to 60 per cent of men.
Women were also more likely to take part in the weekly ‘clap for carers’ with 70 per cent reporting they’d done so compared to 60 per cent of men.
More men said they were comfortable returning to the workplace when allowed than women – 49 per cent of men were happy to go back compared to 39 per cent of women.
Although women and men who are parents are similarly likely to be comfortable sending their children back to school when it happens, 35 per cent of women are very uncomfortable with the idea, compared with 25 per cent of male parents.