The gender gap and COVID stress

Health Watch

MUNICE, Ind. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— COVID is taking a toll on Americans’ mental health and women may be taking the brunt of it. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of woman say they are feeling the stress from COVID, as compared to 37 percent of men. And to make matters worse, new research indicates a serious work-life unbalance for some women during the pandemic.

Meals. Laundry. Childcare. In most U.S. homes, household work was primarily mom’s domain before the pandemic. But now?

Richard Petts, PhD, a sociologist at Ball State University told Ivanhoe, “So, we had this sort of unique opportunity to really understand, okay, what happens when you’re forced to be at home? Do men do more, are couples sharing the work more or is it status quo?”

Petts and his research team surveyed 1,060 U.S. parents living with a partner of the opposite sex. They analyzed changes in the division of labor for household chores and childcare since the pandemic began.

“For a subset of women, about a third of women, things have gotten significantly worse,” Petts explained.

According to the survey, 34 percent of the moms say they are spending more time house cleaning. Forty-three percent say they are doing more cooking. And don’t forget about kids’ on-line learning.

“Women are taking on the majority of those tasks as well,” added Petts.

But the news isn’t all bad. In a number of families, fathers have increased homework time and 45 percent of dads reported spending more time taking care of young children. Putting smiles on faces of everyone at home.

Petts says there is the potential for COVID-19 restrictions to reshape the gendered division of labor, although he says it remains to be seen whether dads will continue with housework and childcare once shelter-in-place is lifted and most go back to work out of the house.

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