New research - 'Gendered impact of COVID-19'

The impacts of COVID-19 has been widespread and profound, affecting the economy, families and our working lives. Whilst this crisis is still evolving and the long-terms impacts are still unknown, the Agency has published a research paper analysing the impact of COVID-19 through a gendered lens. Health crises can exacerbate existing gender inequalities and whilst analysis of this pandemic is ongoing, it is clear that women and men are affected in particular ways.

When we look at these effects through a gendered lens, we can see that this pandemic affects women and men in different ways. The effects on women include their predominant employment in the healthcare sector and responsibility for care work, the gendered division of domestic duties, financial security, and domestic violence. Whilst for men, data from official government sources shows that men are more likely to die from COVID-19. In Australia, data is showing that generally equal numbers of women and men are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.

The paper concludes that:

  • A predominantly female healthcare workforce has placed women on the frontlines of the crisis.

  • The increase in caring responsibilities during the COVID-19 crisis is likely to be shouldered by women.

  • As more people work from home, are under-employed or unemployed, men may take on more care and domestic work, which would affect the gendered division of labour and social norms.

  • The need for workplace flexibility during the crisis may have a continuing effect on workplace policies and practices.

  • While the economic impact of COVID-19 will affect all workers, it may have particular impact on women.

  • Increased time at home due to social distancing and isolation measures is placing individuals at risk of violence.

Whilst it might feel like this is the right time to focus on gender equality, it is more important now than ever. Employers play an important role during this time to ensure the wellbeing of their staff. Organisations can support their employees and continue to champion gender equality by:

  • Offering and promoting flexible working policies to all employees, regardless of gender

  • Offering paid domestic violence leave

  • Offering paid parental leave to women and men

  • Encouraging and supporting men in taking time off to care for children or family members

  • Conducting a pay equity analysis.

You can read more about the gendered impact of COVID-19 and access the full paper below: