Lockdown and the Gender Pay Gap

Lockdown 3.0 brought school closures and much debate about the gender pay gap. Lockdown has placed an enormous strain on working parents. This is because parents have been trying to balance their day jobs with home educating their children. But are mothers disproportionately impacted?

A repeated concern has been that the bulk of home schooling and childcare has fallen to women. A recent article from the FT states that data suggests that mothers spent 70% longer than fathers attending to their children during lockdown.

What are the difficulties?

Issues have arisen when the hours for home schooling and work have clashed. Many recognise the efforts that schools have gone to in order to facilitate home schooling online. However, in The Guardian’s recent interview with 4 parents, common issues arose. School work-load, cost of materials and the need for children to be present at set times were factors placing additional stress on working parents.

Will there be lasting consequences?

It is difficult to say right now. However, many expect that this will have a significant impact upon women’s careers. The good news is that the ONS 2020 report on the Gender Pay Gap for May 2019 to April 2020 showed that the first national lockdown had not negatively impacted earnings between men and women. In fact, the gap had continued to diminish.

The ONS report also stated that furloughed employees were included in the report. However, it does not include those who had been made redundant. A subsequent study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (27th of May 2020) found that shut down sectors disproportionately employed women. As a result, mothers have been one-and-a-half times more likely than fathers to lose their jobs or to resign. The report suggests mothers are also more likely to be furloughed. Although, it does not specify a ratio.

Furthermore, an article from the Evening Standard (15th of October 2020) reported that 46% of women said a lack of childcare had played a part in their being made redundant. The same article reports that 65% of women who had been furloughed cited the same reason. The fear is that many mothers could end up at home permanently after the pandemic. If this were the case, it would be a huge set back for the progress made on gender pay and for diversity and gender equality in the workplace.

The ONS gender pay gap report for 2021 will be much anticipated. It should indicate if the most recent lockdown has further impacted mothers in the workplace.