Degree of inequality between men and women back to pre-COVID levels

Eighteen months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic was considered to be a potential opportunity to advance emancipation in the Netherlands. For example, a study carried out by the sociologists Mara Yerkes, Chantal Remery and Janna Besamusca of Utrecht University showed that at the start of the pandemic fathers had started to become more involved in childcare tasks. The question is what the current state of play is. Yerkes and her colleagues are presenting their latest report: Eighteen months of COVID: the impact on inequality between the sexes in terms of employment, care and well-being. “The degree of inequality between men and women that existed prior to the pandemic has not increased or decreased: it has remained the same.”

Man met kinderen

At the start of the pandemic, fathers indicated they took on more childcare tasks (with 22% stating that they had been doing more childcare than before). In addition, participation in household chores increased slightly at the time (in April 2020, 17% indicated taking on more household tasks relative to their partner than before the pandemic). However, the picture began to change in the months that followed. Remery: “For example, as early as November 2020 we observed that the percentage of fathers who had started to do more childcare tasks was decreasing. The percentage of fathers who did more household chores than before the COVID pandemic had already started to decrease by June 2020.”

The pandemic does not appear to have widened or narrowed the differences between men and women in the long term.

Neither an increase nor a decrease

The pandemic has also not resulted in long-lasting gender differences in other domains. Yerkes: “If we were to map out the trends in paid work, the division of household and childcare tasks, and well-being from April 2020 to November 2021, it is particularly striking that by November 2021 the impact of the pandemic on the differences between men and women is hardly visible anymore. In other words, the pandemic does not appear to have widened or narrowed the differences between men and women in the long term.”