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Carrying the work burden of the Covid-19 pandemic: working class women in the UK

Working class women are carrying the burden of the extra physical and emotional labour being generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. These women care for children, sick and frail elderly, clean buildings, cook and serve food, administer institutions and staff shops, while retaining major responsibility for domestic work and caring at home. The Womens Budget Group (WBG) highlighted that 2.5 million of the 3.2 million workers employed in the highest risk roles during the pandemic are women, many in low-paid roles. There is little detailed attention to their experiences and needs and how to urgently support them in their essential work.

The project is in collaboration with the WBG, the leading independent organisation that deals with the impact of policy on women’s lives. The PI, Professor Tracey Warren, is based at the University of Nottingham, and will be supported by the Co-I, Professor Clare Lyonette, based at IER.

We will analyse data from the ESRC's flagship 'UK Household Longitudinal Study', including vital new information being gathered on the impact of Covid-19. This will be a large nationally-representative study as the pandemic effects roll out over the next year.

This project will deliver a significant contribution to the understanding of, and response to, the pandemic. It will rapidly fill an urgent need by identifying and responding to difficulties experienced by working class women in real time. With WBG, it will start to disseminate early findings and urgent policy solutions to employers, unions, government, key charities and lobby groups within two months of starting the project. This is crucial if working class women are to continue to carry the additional strain of increased work and home demands during the pandemic.

Project Team:

Clare Lyonette (Principal Investigator)

Project Duration:

July 2020 - June 2021