New study will explore impact of Covid-19 on gender inequalities in UK workforce

A new study by social inequality experts will investigate how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the working lives of people in the UK and the potential differences in the experiences of men and women.

The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with the UK Women’s Budget Group, is examining how the workplaces of women and men, and the very experience of work, have been impacted as the pandemic effects rolled out in 2020 and into 2021.

Researchers will analyse whether the pandemic is narrowing or reinforcing existing gender inequalities in ways of working, and whether it has created new inequalities.

Through access to large datasets, the team will produce new multi-dimensional gendered analyses of the working lives of women and men in the UK. The experts will be able to track key labour force changes as the effects of the pandemic roll out and assess if there are differences among women and men in their levels of unemployment, their hours worked and typical earnings.

The study will also allow for analysis of different industries and workplaces, including which businesses were most likely to close; the extent of remote working; and whether this varied by gender composition of the workers.

The project, led by Professor Tracey Warren and Dr Luis Torres of Nottingham University Business School, has been awarded funding to accelerate use of data for vital Covid-19 research following a rapid call for initiatives by Health Data Research UK, the Office for National Statistics and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It will expand on Professor Warren’s existing research project, in collaboration with Professor Clare Lyonette at the University of Warwick and the UK Women’s Budget Group, analysing how the pandemic is affecting working-class women.

The research project will form part of the larger Data and Connectivity National Core Study. This study is led by Health Data Research UK in partnership with the Office for National Statistics and enables access to health and administrative data from across the UK and provides the infrastructure for vital data research.

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group, said: “The Women’s Budget Group is delighted to be part of this really important project. Early data shows that the pandemic, and Government response, has had a gendered impact. This project will provide valuable new evidence showing which groups have been hardest hit in order to inform policy interventions.”

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