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The gender divide in childcare under lockdown

During the UK's coronavirus lockdown, women have been doing more childcare – but men are more likely to say their caring or domestic responsibilities are negatively impacting their paid jobs, according to research by the Global Institute for Women's Leadership and Ipsos MORI.

While women (33%) and men (31%) are equally likely to say their caring and domestic responsibilities have increased since lockdown, female parents say they spend seven hours in an average weekday on childcare, compared with five hours for male parents.

Despite this, 43% of working fathers say their caring or domestic responsibilities are negatively impacting their ability to do their paid job by at least a fair amount, versus 32% of working mothers who say the same.

Overall, a quarter of all men in work, parents and non-parents, (26%) say this is the case, compared with just under one in five working women (17%).

54% of working women say their responsibilities under lockdown haven’t impacted their paid work at all, compared with 43% of working men. But there is little difference among working parents, with 31% of mothers and 27% of fathers saying there has been no impact.

Women are also more sceptical that the pandemic will lead to new ways of working: 49% of women in work think their work patterns will not change when their workplace is fully open again, compared with 39% of men.

The research is based on 2,254 interviews with UK residents aged 16-75, and was carried out online between 20 and 22 May 2020.

Coping with lockdown

Away from the world of work, there are indications that the pandemic and lockdown are affecting women more:

  • 37% of women vs 25% of men say they find coronavirus stressful.
  • 53% of women have felt more anxious and depressed than usual, compared with 43% of men.
  • Women (72%) are more likely than men (61%) to disagree that too much fuss is being made about the risk of coronavirus.

Community-minded behaviour

While men and women report volunteering during the crisis at roughly the same rates, there are some differences in other behaviours:

  • 69% of women say they’ve offered help to friends, family and neighbours during the pandemic, compared with 59% of men.
  • Women are also more likely to have taken part in the weekly “Clap for Our Carers”, with 70% reporting that they’ve done so, versus 59% of men.

Returning to normal

  • 39% of women in work say they’re comfortable returning to the workplace when allowed, while 49% of working men say the same.
  • Although women and men who are parents are similarly likely to be comfortable sending their children back to school when it happens, 35% of women parents are very uncomfortable with the idea, compared with 25% of male parents.

Technical details
Ipsos MORI interviewed a sample of 2,254 adults aged 16-75 in the UK, including 315 women who are parents or guardians and 272 men who are parents or guardians, using its online i:omnibus between 20 and 22 May 2020. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age within gender, government office region, working status, social grade and education. All surveys are subject to a range of potential sources of error.