With results that shock probably no one, a new study finds that the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard on working moms.
Life has changed for everyone – we’re working from home, kids are going to school online, and we have nowhere to go – but the convergence of those things is taking more from mothers than anyone else – and the fallout is likely to persist long after everyone else has gone back to “normal.”
Whatever that means.
This new study, conducted by three separate universities – Washington University, The University of Melbourne, and the University of North Texas – used data from 60,000 households via a monthly labor statistics survey. Researchers were looking to find out how parents have been coping as they tackled both working from home and taking care of children/dealing with online school, all while continuing with their regular domestic duties.
The results, published in Gender, Work, and Organization, found that working moms saw their hours cut by an average of 5 hours per week, while men did not lose any hours at all.
Also, mothers of younger children saw their work affected, with mothers of children under the age of 13 seeing the largest number of reduced hours – all while the gender work gap increased by 20%-50%.
The study’s co-author, Caitlyn Collins of Washington University, chatted with her school’s newspaper about the results.
“Our findings indicate mothers are bearing the brunt of the pandemic and may face long-term employment penalties as a consequence.”
Collins also went into issues of gender equality, and why the team believes moms are losing work while dads are not.
“Even among households in which both parents are able to work from home and are directly exposed to childcare and housework demands, mothers are scaling back to meet these responsibilities to a greater extent than fathers.
Ultimately, our analyses reveal that gender inequality in parents’ work hours has worsened during the pandemic.”
A mother in California is suing her former employer, claiming she was fired because her children were “too noisy” during work calls and her manages were “tired of accommodating her.”
An op-ed was published in The New York Times, with author Deb Perelman stating mothers “are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.”
The study authors hope this additional, scientific proof that working moms are struggling will encourage partners to step up to the plate a bit more.
“Childcare demands and increased homeschooling expectations are likely to linger in many states into the next school year.
To avoid long-term losses in women’s labor force participation, employers should offer flexibility to keep mothers attached to employment, including allowing employees to work shorter hours.
Further, fathers should be encouraged to provide more hours of care for their children, which may mean sacrificing paid work hours to do so.”
Long story short, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but this thing isn’t over yet.
And if we don’t all pitch in to help working moms meet their commitments now, their careers might not be waiting for them when any sense of normalcy returns.