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Penn sociologists found that mothers were twice as likely as fathers to report spending additional time on domestic labor during the pandemic.

Credit: Ana Glassman

A study conducted by Penn sociologists found that additional burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately fallen on mothers.

The research used data on from a nationwide survey conducted in April 2020, focusing on two-parent households. Researchers found that gender disparities were most pronounced when the mother was the only parent working from home and when neither parent was able to work remotely, Penn Today reported. 

In households where neither partner was able to work remotely, mothers were twice as likely as fathers to report spending additional time on domestic labor. Mothers were also seven times as likely to say they were the person responsible for the majority of children’s home learning, Penn Today reported.

Two parent households where only one parent worked remotely also exhibited a significant disparity in domestic labor. When a mother is working remotely and her partner isn't she ends up taking on additional responsibilities, but when the father is the only partner working remotely he does not end up taking on the same amount of extra work.

Single mothers were also shown to be burdened with additional domestic labor, though at a lesser extent than partnered mothers. Furthermore, single mothers were less likely to report pressure about their children’s education compared to partnered mothers.

Households where both parents had to work remotely showed the most equal divide of household responsibilities, with both parents citing similar increases in both housework and parenting, Penn Today reported.

Coauthors of the study Allison Dunatchik, a doctoral student in the department of Sociology, and Sociology professor Jerry Jacobs told Penn Today that they were surprised at the gender disparity evident within the study’s findings. 

“The disparity, how this affected remote dads versus remote moms, was just so stark. Even for a hard-boiled, data-driven sociologist like me, I was surprised,” Jacobs Told Penn Today.