In late March, companies all over Australia who had been saying for years that flexible working ‘just wouldn’t work’, set up an entirely remote workforce within weeks. Suddenly, men who previously couldn’t possibly work from home when a child was sick from school were working full time in the house, and women who had previously had to fight for any flexibility in their hours saw a glimmer of hope that things were about to change for everyone.
There have been benefits – more time together as a family, less frantic pace of life, men working flexibly – but we’re also hearing about new grievances of homes becoming offices, no division between work and home, and ‘flexibility’ meaning now you’re allowed to work from 5am until 11pm and then do it all again the next day. Now, Mamamia is supporting research into the impacts of COVID on working women and we’d love for you to have your say.
When women come last
Kate, who works three days a week as an Executive Manager at a big bank, says prioritising herself was the first thing to go when COVID hit and life changed.
“My day would start at 5am, I’d work until the kids got up, then I’d get them breakfast and log them on for home schooling. I was working significantly longer days. I really didn’t want the kids to fall behind, but because I prioritised that and work was the next priority, I deprioritised myself. Exercising was the first thing to go. In some ways it was a relief when the gyms shut because I could stop feeling guilty about not going. When online options came available I still thought, ‘How can I justify an hour class when there is schooling and work to do?’ It just never worked.”
Couples therapist Isiah McKimmie echoed Kate’s experience with what she sees with clients.
“I’m trying not to be too gendered about it because I know it can go both ways, but the way a lot of couples have their lives set up, men have been used to having more time to themselves, away from the family. Now, couples are stuck in the house together and that’s adding a whole lot of pressure. Women still do tend to take on – or be left with – more of the domestic duties, and I think women tend to express more guilt for taking time for themselves.”
Lauren, a mother-of-three who works a full-time role in strategy for a major Australian retailer, says that even when men try to help, it relies on the mental labour of women.
Watch: What the sexiest man in the world actually looks like. Post continues after video.