Living conditions and quality of life

COVID-19 pandemic and the gender divide at work and homeForthcoming

Report
Planned publication date
October 2022

Key findings

  • Traditional gender roles which present women as primary caregivers are still deeply rooted in social norms – for both women and men – and this is reflected in paid and unpaid work. These divides translate into continuing gender gaps in the labour market and beyond, appearing across various indicators including working conditions, poverty, total working time and work–life conflict.
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  • Traditional gender roles which present women as primary caregivers are still deeply rooted in social norms – for both women and men – and this is reflected in paid and unpaid work. These divides translate into continuing gender gaps in the labour market and beyond, appearing across various indicators including working conditions, poverty, total working time and work–life conflict.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market was remarkably gender-neutral at EU level, partly reflecting women’s overrepresentation in sectors that were shut down, but also their concentration in teleworkable jobs and essential sectors. However, research findings show that during the COVID-19 crisis, job loss for women has been most prevalent among the lowest-paid workers, while job loss for men has been more evenly distributed.
  • Work–life conflicts increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among teleworking mothers of young children. As Europe emerges from the pandemic, policymakers need to take note of that the fact that voluntary, flexible work arrangements – most likely to be adopted by women – can also mean increased unpaid workload and lower visibility in the workplace, with long-term consequences for career progression, pay and pensions.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the critical role of care services in supporting women’s labour market participation, financial security and overall well-being. It is essential that Member States support the provision of good-quality, accessible and affordable care services in all areas, while addressing staff shortages and improving the working conditions in these sectors.
  • The post-pandemic recovery is an opportunity to bring about real change in gender norms, behaviours, and policy innovation. It will be crucial for policymakers, including social partners, to prioritise gender issues while continuing to monitor and evaluate progress.
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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated inequalities in many dimensions of European societies, including inequalities between women and men in several key domains. This report looks at gender inequalities that existed prior to the COVID-19 crisis and describes in what ways the pandemic has impactedRead more

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated inequalities in many dimensions of European societies, including inequalities between women and men in several key domains. This report looks at gender inequalities that existed prior to the COVID-19 crisis and describes in what ways the pandemic has impacted on gender divides. It also analyses the various policy responses of national governments across the EU to address gender divides, and to prevent their widening during the pandemic. The effects of the pandemic on employment at EU-level has been remarkably gender-neutral on the whole, with nuances emerging within different sectors and socioeconomic groups. The pre-existing gender gaps in unpaid work have persisted, leading to work–life conflicts, especially among teleworking mothers of young children. Finally, the report describes the outlook for gender inequalities in Europe, pointing to factors that will shape the future of equality between women and men: gender segregation in labour markets, gender divides in telework and hybrid work, and gender mainstreaming in policymaking – especially in relation to caregiving and care services.

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  • Report

    Number of pages: 
    86
    Reference no.: 
    EF22010
    ISBN: 
    978-92-897-2275-9
    Catalogue no.: 
    TJ-07-22-930-EN-N
    DOI: 
    10.2806/015588
    Catalogue info

    COVID-19 pandemic and the gender divide at work and home

    Cite this publication: 

    Eurofound (2022), COVID-19 pandemic and the gender divide at work and home, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

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  • Tables and graphs

    The report contains the following table and figures.

    • Table: Gender equality policy measures analysed as part of the research
    • Figure 1: Annual labour market indicators, 2002–2019, EU27
    • Figure 2: Employment rate in 2019, by gender and country (%)
    • Figure 3: Average number of actual hours of work a week in main job, annual data by gender, 2002–2019, EU27 (hours)
    • Figure 4: Main reason for economic inactivity, by gender, 2019, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 5: Economic inactivity due to care responsibilities, family reasons, or personal reasons in 2019, by gender and country (%)
    • Figure 6: Top 10 employment sectors, 2019, EU27 (% of total employment by gender)
    • Figure 7: Mean hours spent on unpaid work, by gender and year, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 8: Mean hours spent on unpaid work in 2016, by gender and country (hours per week)
    • Figure 9: Mean total working time among employed individuals in 2016, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 10: Mean hours spent on total work in 2016, by gender and country (hours per week)
    • Figure 11: Frequency of sporting, cultural or leisure activity participation by gender in 2015, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 12: Work–life conflict by gender and parenthood status, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 13: Risk of depression by gender and year, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 14: Annual labour market indicators, 2019–2021, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 15: Monthly unemployment rate by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 16: Quarterly employment rate by gender (change from Q3 2008/Q4 2019), EU27 (percentage points)
    • Figure 17: Share of employment in sector groups by gender in 2019, EU27 (% of total employment by gender)
    • Figure 18: Change in employment compared with Q2 2019, in sector groups by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 19: Change in annual employment rate compared with 2019, by gender and age group, EU27 (percentage points)
    • Figure 20: Employment shifts (thousands) by gender and job–wage quintile: two crisis periods compared, EU27
    • Figure 21: Change in annual employment rate by gender and country (from 2019 to 2020) (percentage points)
    • Figure 22: Absence from work by main reason, EU27 (thousands)
    • Figure 23: Changes Q4 2019 to Q4 2021 in average number of actual weekly hours of work in main job by gender, EU27 (hours)
    • Figure 24: Total duration of school closures up until March 2022, by country (weeks)
    • Figure 25: Mean hours spent on unpaid work, by gender, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 26: Mean hours spent on childcare, by gender and presence of children in the household, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 27: Mean hours spent on unpaid work by gender, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 28: Mean hours spent on unpaid work, by age and gender, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 29: Sharing of unpaid work within couples, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 30: Change in division of unpaid work within couples, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 31: Change in division of childcare and education of children within couples, depending on both partners’ teleworking status, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 32: Mean total working time among employed individuals, EU27 (hours per week)
    • Figure 33: Changes in health during the pandemic by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 34: Risk of depression during the pandemic by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 35: Optimism about future during the pandemic by gender, EU27 (scale 1–5)
    • Figure 36: Risk of poverty or social exclusion by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 37: Work–life conflicts by gender, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 38: Work–life conflicts, by gender and parenthood status, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 39: Difficulties concentrating on job because of family responsibilities, by teleworking and parenthood status, EU27 (%)

Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

Part of the series

  • COVID-19

    Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.

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