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Gender gap in employment widened during pandemic: study

Last Updated Jul 8, 2020 at 9:53 am MDT

VANCOUVER (660 NEWS) – As Canada’s economy reopens, a new study shows mothers are less likely to get back to work than fathers.

The gender gap, when it comes to employment, has been widening since the pandemic began according to Sociology professor Sylvia Fuller from the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Fuller said they tracked the gap between moms and dads from February to the end of May.

“For parents who had a youngest kid who was in preschool, that (gap) doubled by May. Interestingly, the gap was even bigger for folks who had kids in school. There it widened over seven times.”

Researchers at UBC looked at data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey to find how the gender employment gap changed.

The study included only people who were employed at the beginning of the pandemic, or who were employed the previous year.

The research also found the gender gap was even more pronounced among less-educated parents.

“If you have less education, you’re more likely to be in the kind of job where you can’t take your kid to work with you,” said Fuller. “You don’t have that kind of flexibility to work from home, if you’re working in retail or if you’re working in construction.”

The study showed the pre-existing gender gap in pay was another reason mothers were the ones to stay home.

Fuller said the data points to the need for a robust and well-funded public child care sector and other policy measures to help less-educated mothers return to the labour market.

“If this persists as the economy opens up, if parents are still facing a summer with limited child care available, summer camps being closed, and uncertainty with schooling in the fall, then there’s a real danger that the pandemic will open up fault lines in men’s and women’s employment that will increase inequalities for a long time to come.”