The Gender Gap in Household Tasks and Division of Labor Satisfaction During COVID-19

Tim Haney, Mount Royal University

Kristen Barber, Southern Illinois University

For many years, scholars have directed our attention to the gender gap in domestic labor. Even when women engage in paid employment, they nevertheless perform the majority of the household labor in most wealthy countries. At the same time, disasters and crises both expose and exacerbate existing social inequalities. In this paper, we ask: in what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the gender gap in household labor, including childcare? And how do men and women feel about this gap? Using data from the Canadian Perspectives survey series (Wave 3), conducted by Statistics Canada three months into the pandemic, our analyses consider the task distribution that made household labor intensely unequal during COVID-19, with women ten times more likely than men to say childcare fell mostly on them, for example. Yet, in nearly all of our models, women did not unambiguously report being more dissatisfied with the division of domestic tasks within the house, nor were they more likely than men to say that the household division of labor “got worse” during COVID, however, parents (mothers and fathers) did feel that it got worse. We discuss what these findings mean for women’s mental health, long-term paid labor, and interpersonal power, and raise questions about why it is we are not seeing a decrease in women’s reported satisfaction with this division of labor. These findings spotlight gender inequality as pillars of capitalism, and how the structural and the interpersonal weathering of the pandemic comes at women’s expense.

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Research Status: Research completed, preparing to publish/present

Contact: Tim Haney

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