Women work through the night to manage work and family commitments during lockdown

Working women face immense pressure at home, despite lockdown measures being lifted, as the burden to perform professionally collides with domestic duties, according to new research from NEOMA Business School and Emlyon Business School.

The COVID-19 lockdown is gradually being eased across the globe and people are being asked to come back to work. However, as offices, restaurants and other communal places re-open, children have not been given the same priority to go back to school or daycare centre’s, and will not return until September in some cases.

For women, this means many are being forced to juggle multiple professional and personal commitments – having to balance working full time, taking care of children, and managing a surplus of domestic chores all within the home.

The research shows that as a result, couples have had to choose who is going to be in charge of most of the domestic and parental load, and whose work is going to have priority.

For women, it is the domestic work that tends to take priority. “Even when women are the ‘breadwinners’ of the family, providing financial support to the rest of the family, their internalisation of their role as ‘caregivers’ is leading them to think that they are the ones who are supposed to take care of the children,” says professor Natalie Clavijo from NEOMA Business School.

As women are giving priority to their household, in order to somehow safeguard their careers, many have been working before their children get up, after they go to bed, at night, and on weekends. Others have been dealing with insomnia, often caused by the anxiety they feel regarding potential marginalisation from their workplace. “More than ever, this pandemic shows that gender equality is not just a question of financial independence or career valorisation.

Gender norms are at the root of such inequalities and must be addressed and explained so that equality is fully redesigned,” says Ludivine Perray-Redslob from Emlyon Business School. This pandemic shows that behind the scenes, working women, are still confronted with powerful gendered norms, being forced to balance their personal and professional lives, ultimately leading to anxiety and career sacrifices.

This research was carried out by conducting interviews and collecting comments from online communities of parents, and was published in the study ‘Women Executives Facing Containment’.