The Covid19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-crisis economic and social inequalities, which have important implications for gender equality in all domains of life. In general terms, the pandemic poses risks to widening the gender gap in areas like accumulation of human capital, economic empowerment, agency and voice. At work, these challenges are multilayered given the life-changing impact the pandemic has had in the way we relate socially and professionally with work and employment.
The most immediate points of discussion have revolved around the gendered impact of covid19 for those working from home and those who are unable to work from home. In adapting to the risks of infection, a large portion of the working population is now homeworking. The combination of homeworking, alongside the prevalence of virtual work presence has blurred the lines between home life and work life. It has increased an already complex reality of the disproportionate burden women face in relation to unpaid care and housework, having to juggle working from home, homeschooling, and caring for others. For those unable to work from home, e.g. service sector workers (cleaners, security guards, waiting staff, retail workers, financial sector, public transport, social workers) as well as plant, process and machine operatives and frontline key workers, the challenges of continued exposure to higher risks of infection, while also having to deal with concerns about the health and safety of those close to them, has led to decreased levels of wellbeing as a result of an increase in emotional and psychological distress.
Intersectionally, reports have suggested a disproportionate impact on Black people, people of colour, and ethnic minorities, especially those on low-income jobs. These groups are more often pressured to work outside home, which increases their level of risk of infection and death, as well as negatively impact on their mental health. Moreover, the decrease of income, due to job loss and reduction in working hours, puts additional pressure on low-income households. Consequently, Black women, women of colour and ethnic minorities have experienced a higher financial burden as a result of the pandemic.
This panel is interested in unpacking the complexities of gender dynamics and inequalities that are emerging from the pandemic. Key questions for this panel discussion include: What are the consequences of the gendered impact of the Covid19 pandemic on those working from home and those who are unable to work from home? Who is excluded from the current framing of the conversation? What actions need to be taken and by whom? What policies could be implemented in order to mitigate the gendered impact of the Covid19 pandemic?
Panelists: Professor Gary Powell (University of Connecticut, USA), Dr Carolyn Axtell (University of Sheffield, UK), and Amal Abdellatif (Northumbria University, UK)
This webinar was organised by Dr Elisabeth Anna Guenther, Dr Sandy MacDonald, Dr Jenny K Rodriguez, and Dr Huiping Xian. Dr Xian chaired the webinar.
20 January 2021 (further information on bam.ac.uk)