Gender gap persists during lockdown says Belgian study

By Oscar Pandiello

Brussels, May 25 (efe-epa).- The widespread lockdowns issued as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have not reduced the gender gap in the distribution of household chores, according to a study by the Vrije University of Brussels (VUB).

According to the TOR research group, Belgian women have spent an average of three hours and five minutes on housework and childcare, 32 minutes more than men, during quarantine.

When it came to leisure and free time, the surveyed men on average have enjoyed six hours and 50 minutes, almost an hour more (57 minutes) than the women participating in the study.

Early conclusions of the study, which is still ongoing, are based on the responses of 661 Belgian citizens aged between 18 and 75 to a digital survey on the website.

To date, participants have written over 3,500 daily time-diaries that describe the activities they engage in throughout a day for at least one week.

“Finding a good job and family balance is facilitated by the public-private separation of work and household. Work takes place in the workplace and teaching at school, the household is run at home. That separation is now gone,” Pieun van Tienoven, a sociologist at VUB leading the project, says.

β€œThe same goes for active leisure activities. Most of these also take place at home. This might lead to tensions or stress in the household.”

The data from this research has been compared with a random sample collected in 2013 by Statistics Belgium to verify the most substantial changes between routines that year and during the pandemic lockdown.

When comparing the data, men barely spent three minutes more on average on household chores than seven years ago, while women spent 46 minutes less on these chores, which results in a deceptive reduction of the gender gap.

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