Covid-19 has worsened working inequalities women face, study finds

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Covid-19 Has Worsened Working Inequalities Women Face, Study Finds Covid-19 Has Worsened Working Inequalities Women Face, Study Finds
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James Cox

Women have taken on more of the burden of family care during the Covid-19 pandemic than male colleagues, according to the findings of a new survey.

The Ibec study warns that the pandemic could lead to a reversal in progress made towards equality in the business world.

The business lobby group's research suggests Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the working lives of many women, worsening inequalities that were already in place prior to the pandemic.

Increased pressure

Twenty per cent of companies surveyed noted a change in the position of women in the past year, with employers specifically mentioning increased pressure on female workers and increased childcare responsibilities due to home-schooling.

The research found that women had more early starts, late finishes and time off requests to look after children and elderly family members.

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“Historically women are disproportionately impacted by crises, disasters and societal disruption, and Covid-19 checks all those boxes,” said Dr Kara McGann, head of social policy with Ibec.

“Our survey findings confirm that Covid-19 has accentuated long-standing gender imbalances across several dimensions, threatening hard-won markers of gender equity.”

The survey was taken last month and there were 271 respondents, over half in the services sector with others in manufacturing and distribution.

Covid-19 “has the potential to regress hard-earned progress” in gender equity, according to the findings.

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Just under half of respondents (48 per cent) said more women than men had asked for changings to their working schedule to facilitate caring responsibilities.

Three per cent said more men had made similar requests while 31 per cent said a similar number of women and men had asked for changes to their working patterns.

Unpaid leave

Meanwhile, 31 per cent of respondents said more women than men had requested unpaid leave due to family caring respondibilities.

Dr McGann said: “The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic.”

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