- Women took on more caregiving and homeschool responsibilities than men in 2020.
- Women spent a daily average of 2.4 hours on education-related activities in 2020, higher than the 1.7 hours men spent.
- Women also spent two more hours a day on childcare while doing other tasks in 2020 than men.
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The pandemic and related lockdowns naturally affected what Americans do every day, and new data shows that women spent more time on homeschooling and care responsibilities than men did in 2020.
The average amount of time women spent each day on education-related activities, including homeschooling and other school and remote learning tasks, increased from about an hour in 2019 to about two hours and 25 minutes in 2020. For men, this average increased from about roughly an hour in 2019 to about an hour and 39 minutes in 2020.
It’s important to note that the ATUS survey collection was affected by the pandemic so results don’t cover the full year – the statistics compare May through December in both 2019 and 2020. This also means that the 2020 figures come fully from the period after COVID-19 began to widely spread and lockdowns began.
Women also spent over two more hours a day on secondary childcare, or giving childcare while doing other things, than men in 2020.
“Among adults living in households with children under age 13, in 2020, men averaged 4.9 hours and women averaged 7.1 hours per day providing secondary childcare,” BLS wrote in a news release. “Both men and women spent about one hour more per day providing secondary childcare in 2020 compared with 2019.”
An analysis of the ATUS data from New York Times’ Ben Casselman and Ella Koeze showed that single moms with children between 6 to 12 years old spent almost three more hours on childcare in 2020 compared to 2019, but unmarried men with kids in this age group saw virtually no change. On the other hand, married men and women saw similar increases from 2019 to 2020, per their analysis.
The pandemic hasn’t been easy for working women
One working mom, Susan Foosness, previously told Insider that it was hard to juggle time taking care of her son and remote work amid the pandemic.
“I end up just not doing great at work, not being a great mom, feeling guilty about that, and that all just kind of spiraled into this sense of burnout,” Foosness said.
But the burden of childcare placed on women isn’t new. C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told Insider that childcare disproportionately fell on women before the pandemic.
“What I find really important about this moment is that we’re starting to have bigger public conversations around this disproportionate burden that women [have], and employers are starting to have conversations about this and families are starting to have conversations, so hopefully we’ll begin to see a significant shift,” Mason said.
With the school year just around the corner, the question of how many parents who left the labor force because of childcare or schooling will reenter the workforce remains.
The Washington Post notes childcare programs are experiencing shortages, generally because of low pay in the industry. The median annual pay in May 2020 for childcare workers was $25,460, much lower than $41,950 for all occupations, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mason said women struggling to balance caretaking with work may have had to change to part time or quit altogether. Employers can be more flexible to help women reenter the workforce.
“So when companies are flexible, they understand what it means to be an employee with caretaking responsibilities, then we have a fairer, more equitable workplace,” Mason said.