Remote working allowed more women to take up jobs during the pandemic

Half a million women increased their working hours from part-time to full-time

Saman Javed
Tuesday 23 November 2021 10:21 GMT
<p>A woman working from home</p>

A woman working from home

The number of women in the workplace has risen after more companies allowed employees to work from home during the pandemic, according to new research.

The number of women aged between 25 and 44 who are in work in 2021 has increased by 1.8 per cent since the pandemic began.

Additionally, 74 per cent of mothers to children who are aged between 0 and three are currently in work, compared to 68 per cent of mothers in 2019 and 2017.

The findings, published by think tank Resolution Foundation, are a result of hybrid working patterns implemented during the pandemic which made it easier for primary care givers (who are disproportionately female) to balance work and looking after their children.

One in 10 mothers in a relationship said that remote working had allowed them to either take up a job or increase their working hours since February 2020, while just five per cent of fathers and three per cent of women without children said the same.

According to the report, titled Begin Again?, approximately 500,000 women increased their working hours from part-time to full-time during the pandemic.

They now make up almost 48 per cent of the workforce overall, up from 47 per cent in 2019 and 44 per cent in 1992.

The report, which was compiled in collaboration with the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, also suggested that women in relationships may have picked up more work after their partner’s pay or employment was affected during the pandemic.

As of October 2021, 15 per cent of people whose partners were furloughed and received less than full pay were working more than they did before the pandemic.

In couples where one partner was furloughed and still received full pay, just nine per cent of secondary earners took on more work.

Resolution Foundation said that the rise in remote working could lead to permanent increase in women’s participation in the workforce.

“It is worth bearing in mind, however, that an emerging gender divide in remote working could risk inhibiting women’s career progression if employers favour those who are present in the office,” the authors said.

“As we have recommended before, policy makers and employers alike should support working parents, no matter their gender, to balance work and childcare without detriment to their longer-term career prospects.”

Earlier this month, Bank of England policymaker, Catherine Mann, warned that women who are working from home could be “hurting” their careers now that people are starting to return to the office.“

There is the potential for two tracks,” Mann explained at the time. “There’s the people who are on the virtual track and people who are on a physical track. And I do worry that we will see those two tracks develop, and we will pretty much know who’s going to be on which track, unfortunately.”

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