But, it’s not just the emotional and mental effects that have hit women harder. The immediate employment impact of the crisis has also been felt more strongly by women; 33% of women in work say their workplaces have been closed, compared with 25% of men. Women are more likely to work in sectors most affected by the pandemic, such as hospitality, retail and travel. This all paints a gloomy picture for women and could set the clock back on progress towards gender equality.
However, there is perhaps some evidence that the pandemic has shifted the dial in a more positive direction for women. As working from home has become the norm for so many (and saw many parents juggling the demands of working and home-schooling), working practices that were once seen as more damaging to women than men may be now be viewed in more gender-neutral ways, while the long-term trend away from the traditional view that childcare makes a man ‘less of a man’ has accelerated further. Behaviours still lag behind perceptions – in principle people may accept a man can share childcare, but in reality, women are still more likely to feel that they are shouldering more of the responsibility.