Gender inequalities in times of the COVID-19 pandemic

This project was co-financed by ODISSEI in the extra LISS Corona call for proposals in March 2020.
Project leader: Dr. Mara A. Yerkes, Utrecht University

Seen from a gender lens, the COVID-19 pandemic and far-reaching measures taken by governments to reduce its impact have the potential to magnify existing inequalities between working men and women. However, they also have the potential to reduce existing inequalities. This research project focuses on how women and men in couples with children differ in (their experience of) paid work, care responsibilities, and work-care combinations in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Dutch couples have children, men are more likely to remain in full-time work, reducing their ability to provide care for children. Women, in contrast, often work part-time, taking on a greater share of care for children. The closing of schools and childcare centres creates the potential for a reaffirmation of women’s caregiving role. Yet the opposite could also occur. Given Dutch women’s overrepresentation in some essential occupations, fathers may be required to take on a greater share of caring tasks leading to a temporary gender reversal in caregiving roles among couples. The question is how couples cope with these changed circumstances and how this affects men and women’s work-life balance.

Investigating these potential effects requires a gendered perspective, accounting for intersectional differences across occupation, employment status (dependent vs. self-employed) as well as other socio-economic differences, such as ethnicity and/or class. In the LISS panel, the researchers will use two batteries of questions covering the situation at work and home for couples with at least one child under 18 living in the household.

The researchers’ policy paper (Dutch) can be found on the UU site. Their research featured in Volkskrant, NPO Radio 1, NRC, and Trouw.

In June, Yerkes was a guest of the Stuk Rood Vlees podcast in an episode about working parents in the coronacrisis, where she discussed the results of this ODISSEI study.

Image: Bicanski for Pixnio via CC0