Coronavirus: Lockdown increasing the gender wage gap as more women lose their jobs than men

May 27, 2020

Mothers who were in paid work before lockdown are 47% more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their jobs or quit, new research suggests.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report also found women have taken on "more housework and childcare than fathers" during lockdown, even if they have the same working arrangements.

Mothers are also spending more of their working hours simultaneously trying to care for children compared to men according to the analysis.

Leila Gregory has an eight-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a 15-year-old with autism.

She says working and educating her children from home has been a "struggle".

Mrs Gregory says: "The beginning was completely manic because both myself and my husband work full time, so we were doing two full time jobs, schooling two kids, one of which has GCSEs and the other one who needs a lot of attention to keep him focused.

It's almost impossible to lock yourself away to be honest with you, it's one of those things where if you do go into another room my eight-year-old is likely to go 'mummy where have you gone?' and with video calls, he likes to pop his head in and say hello to everyone which isn't the norm!"

Mrs Gregory was put on the government's furlough scheme during lockdown, and in the last week she has been made redundant. She says: "Just the way this is right now, it doesn't seem to matter what industry you're working in everyone is affected.

"Working was a huge part of my life, I went back to work after five years and I absolutely loved it. My kids are the centre of my universe, but [work] was my 'me' time, somewhere where I could go and do what I do best."

The IFS study, of more than 3,500 households, found that mothers are 14% more likely to have been furloughed than fathers during the current crisis.

Researchers warn that a dramatic reduction in the time mothers are spending dedicated to work could harm their careers and increased the gender wage gap.

The research comes as primary schools across England are preparing to admit more children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from next week.

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Alison Andrew, a Senior Research Economist at IFS, says mothers experience "more interruptions" in the household than fathers.

Ms Andrew said: "Mothers are more likely than fathers to have moved out of paid work since the start of lockdown.

"They have reduced their working hours more than fathers even if they are still working and they experience more interruptions while they work from home than fathers, particularly due to caring for children.

"Together these factors mean that mothers now are only doing a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours that fathers are. A risk is that the lockdown leads to a further increase in the gender wage gap."

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