– Risks of the kid-interruption gap. A new survey in the U.K. puts in stark relief the toll the pandemic is taking on mothers: Women with kids are 47% more likely than men with children to have permanently lost or quit their jobs since February. They are 14% more likely to have been furloughed.
All told, “mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers. Before lockdown, mothers did around 60% of the uninterrupted work hours of fathers,” according to the study of 3,500 families with two opposite-sex parents by Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education.
The burden on mothers extends beyond job losses and reduced hours. Mothers are shouldering the bulk of the time commitment of new duties related to childcare and housework. They’re dedicating 10.3 hours every day to looking after the kids—2.3 hours more than fathers. Dads are spending more time on such activities generally—double the hours they spent on childcare in 2014-2015, in fact—yet men matched women’s household output only in families where the mother had kept her job and the father had lost his.
The study also points to nuances of parents’ new at-home existence that are easily overlooked. It reveals, for instance, a sort of child-interruption gap: Moms are far more likely than dads to be interrupted during their paid working hours. Nearly half—47%—of mothers’ working hours are split between professional duties and other activities like childcare. That figure is 30% for fathers.
Those kid cameos on Zoom are cute, but the study warns that moms’ multitasking is a risk when “focused work time is important for performance.” The mom-dad imbalance on this front could “further [increase] the gender wage gap among parents.”
These statistics may not come as a surprise to parents currently homeschooling while working—or in worse cases, homeschooling while looking for a job—but they underscore how vital childcare is as nations emerge from shutdowns and economies look to recover. There will be no “normal” without reopened daycare centers and schools.