Childcare, household chores and careers are difficult for one person to manage. This is why the professional success of women, especially mothers, is suffering from the consequences of the corona pandemic. The latest research paints an ugly picture: In September alone, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 865,000 women in the United States quit their jobs – compared to just 216,000 men. A study by the management consultancy McKinsey with Lean In among 40,000 employees also shows that every fourth woman surveyed is considering taking a step backwards.
These differences reflect gender imbalances in relationships, in which women often bear the brunt of childcare and household chores. Researchers at Rutgers University have now found that if men did more household help during the pandemic, women could benefit from it professionally.
The pandemic could change the social norm
For the researchers, the result was surprising, said study author Kristina Durante to NewsABC.net. She recognized that the pandemic “can change the social norm around work and care”. The Rutgers study is a working paper. That said, it has not yet been reviewed by an outside group of scientists.
Kristina Durante and her team carried out a survey among 920 test subjects in May 2020. Respondents were between 18 and 65 years old and lived with a spouse of the opposite sex. In the survey, the participants were asked to show how many hours they work each week and what contribution they made to the household during and before the pandemic. In addition, the participants were asked to rate their work before and during the pandemic: How they like it and how productive they are.
A large number of women are more satisfied with their work than they were before the pandemic
At first, it was not surprising that both men and women invested more time in unpaid work, such as caring for children and household chores.
What is more surprising is that 71 percent of mothers said they were the same or even more satisfied with their work than they were before the pandemic. Only 68 percent of women without children said the same thing.
Upon closer inspection, the researchers found that these results had something to do with the men who helped out more at home. The more men had helped their wives with childcare and housework, the happier and more productive they were at work.
The pandemic could reduce stigma on men who take the time to care more about their families instead of pursuing careers. In 2015 there was already a study by Erin Reid at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. The scientist found that many men in a global consulting firm only pretended to work while they actually used the time to go on vacation with their children, for example.
While women often work part-time or are on business trips less often, men shy away from doing the same. However, the corona pandemic may have changed the way employers think about the “ideal worker,” Durante said. “There is more humanity.” Even top candidates would have to find a balance between family and work.
This text has been translated from English. You can find the original here.