Billions of children are out of school during the current global pandemic and major adjustments in households across the nation are being made to manage a new routine. Moms are assisting with online learning, dads are serving up snacks and both are turning to TikTok when they run out of fun ideas.
However, new research shows that the disruption to everyday life may predict two major outcomes for gender equality.
According to CNN, researchers Matthias Doepke and Jane Olmstead-Rumsey of Northwestern University, Titan Alon of the University of California San Diego and Michèle Tertilt of the University of Mannheim report that moms will shoulder the majority of childcare duties during the pandemic. However, now that fathers are forced into stay-at-home dad roles, the shift in gender roles may lead to greater gender equality post-quarantine.
Women are on the frontlines.
As COVID-19 cases surge, healthcare and other essential professionals are working more, longer hours. The U.S. Labor of Statistics reports that women hold nearly 78 percent of all hospital jobs, 70 percent of pharmacy jobs and 51 percent of grocery store roles, which will, in traditional families, force men to become the main childcare providers, says Doepke and his colleagues.
“During the current crisis, many millions of men are on a form of forced paternity leave for a much longer period, and a sizeable fraction will be the main providers of childcare during this time,” Doepke and his colleagues wrote. “Hence, even while women carry a higher burden during the crisis, it is still highly likely that we will observe a sizeable impact of this forced experiment on social norms, and ultimately on gender equality, in the near future.”
Flexible work options will narrow the pay gap.
Additionally, a shift in gender dynamics may arise due to the adoption of more flexible, WFH options for men and women. Researchers predict this new work culture will remain in place long after the crisis and lead to a narrower pay gap between moms and dads.
“All these companies now have to make this work, with families being at home and having these other responsibilities,” Doepke said. “It might be a culture shock that has implications on equality.”
For working moms, a partner who handles 50-50 of the at-home responsibilities, especially childcare, will be a long-lasting sigh of relief.
Here’s to hoping these newly minted stay-at-home dads have glasses of wine waiting for their women when they get home.