Lockdown measures have led to parents picking up the childcare and schooling responsibilities alongside work, but according to a new study the demands on women are far higher, leading to a huge impact on working mothers.

This is according to a new study, reported in the New York Times, which shows that for heterosexual couples with children under 12 where both partners were in continuous employment, mothers have reduced their work hours by four to five times more than fathers.

Consequently, the report says, “the gender gap in work hours has grown by 20 to 50 percent,” among American parents.

Despite the fact that it reflected only a non-nationally representative portion of the population, it echoes findings from other studies that have shown women bearing the burden of child care. A survey from late April showed that of the US adults who had stopped working in order to look after children, 80% were women.

Though the study has established that the trend is occurring, the exact reasons for it happening remain speculative. The researchers point to a handful of possible explanations, namely that children build up a cumulative tendency to seek help from their mothers first.

Alternatively, it reflects the disproportionate burden of emotional labour placed on women. In line with traditional gender roles, emotional labour corresponds to the largely unseen tasks involved in keeping all members of the household comfortable and happy, which are cumulative and draining.

When there is an issue deep seated as this, there is an opportunity for brands. Witness Ariel Matic’s multi-award winning #SharetheLoad, which attempted to encourage a solution to gender disparities in housework.

Sourced from the New York Times, Journal of Gender, Work & Organization