Women’s working hours have fallen less then men’s during the pandemic, scotching fears that they would be worse hit, research has found.
The fall in women’s total hours worked has been about a third smaller than for men, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation.
The employment rate among men has fallen by 2.4 per cent since the start of the crisis, driven by a decline in self-employment, compared with a 0.8 per cent drop for women, the think tank said.
It added that full-time female employment had increased. By the start of this year average working hours among women who did not have children reached a record high, up by 5 per cent since the start of the pandemic, said the report.
“At the start of the crisis, many people warned of a ‘shecession’ as female-dominated sectors such as retail were shut down,” said Hannah Slaughter, economist at the Resolution Foundation. “But the economic hit of the crisis has, in fact, seen greater overall falls in employment for men than women. Full-time female employment has actually risen while women without children who kept their jobs are in fact working longer hours than before the crisis.”
However, women with children have been more affected than their partners by the burdens of home schooling. Women on low pay in the health and care sectors have fared far worse because they have been at greater risk of catching the virus.
“The overall impact of the crisis has been much more equal between the genders than expected, but with the crisis still with us, and the future of home working unclear, the lasting gender impact of the crisis is still highly uncertain,” it said.
The foundation said that the relatively small impact on women had been driven partly by their concentration in the public sector, where employment has remained relatively steady.