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“When something has to give, it is very often women’s careers: their working hours, the expectations of what they are able to accomplish on the job, or the job itself.”
When I shared this quote by author and academic Caitlyn Collins with a group of Mamamia mothers, it hit a nerve. I was inundated with messages from women who have been spending the coronavirus pandemic silently seething.
As one woman, Lucy, explained, this crisis has made her realise that the gains made by women in terms of equality, work, income distribution, and equal parenting are built on an incredibly fragile foundation.
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“There has definitely been a shift in the distribution of domestic work (I’m doing a bigger proportion), now that we’re both working from home, and I think it’s been far too easy to revert to traditional gender roles. It definitely makes me worry about the future of my two daughters,” Lucy told Mamamia.
Before the pandemic, fellow mum Kerry was working 20 hours a week as a solicitor while her two-year-old spent three days a week in care, and her older two attended school.
Once all three children were home, and both she and her husband were trying to work amongst it all, she quickly realised it was her work that was going to have to suffer – not his.
“I have often felt close to crying with rage at the unfairness of it all. It is so disempowering. Any attempts to try and equalise the load resulted in my husband pulling the financial ‘trump card’ because he earns so much more than me,” she told Mamamia.