Worrying Increase in Unpaid Work for Mothers Due to the Pandemic

After a month of celebrating mothers all over the world, it is important to analyze how their role has changed during the pandemic and offer solutions to the struggles that worsened during the sanitary emergency.

The Woman Post | Valentina Ibarra

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Balancing jobs and personal life has never been an easy task, but with closed schools and rising house chores, working mothers are experiencing new barriers in their careers.

The rise of unemployment during this last year is undeniable, but the impact on women hits harder. According to the New York Times, 4.637.000 women in the United States lost their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. And more worrisome, 32% of the women between the age of 22-45 said the reason behind their unemployment is childcare. This is the impact of gendered roles that put a different weight on women since they are expected to take care of children’s education, cooking, and cleaning, while also keeping good performance in their jobs. It is not an easy thing to do, as time just is not enough to cover all the fronts alone.

Even before the pandemic, women performed three-quarters of the existing unpaid work, but these numbers may have doubled during this last year, according to UN Women. This is not a new problem for working mothers, but it intensified in a way that caused more unemployment and unpaid work for them.

The data is clear in this matter. The Pew Research Center found that during the pandemic, 36% of the surveyed women said that they had a lot of childcare responsibilities while working. In contrast, only 16% of men expressed having the same problem. Furthermore, according to McKinsey and Company, working moms are 1.5 times more likely to spend three or more hours on additional home-related tasks than fathers.


And how does it impact mother’s careers? McKinsey and Company also found that 33% of mothers decided to leave their jobs or take a step back in their careers. All the numbers are horrendous, the pandemic is pushing women out of the working force, with a bigger impact when they are moms.

With all this knowledge, it is important to start working towards giving better opportunities to working mothers. The New York Times did full research on this matter, interviewing mothers from all over the US to understand their biggest worries and offer some ideas for solutions to this problem.

They found that flexible hours were the first solution, but as the unpaid work increased it became a full-day 7 days a week shift trying to succeed at everything. The NYT recommends acting on different fronts. For employers, there is a call to allow part-time work, pay for childcare, and take caregiving into consideration in evaluations. For governments, there is a need to open schools, send money to struggling mothers who lost their jobs and offer incentives so enterprises hire and retain their working mothers. Finally, men need to take part in caregiving and domestic chores, the gender imbalance needs to end with this pandemic.

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