How are the Wispots

Household, children, working from home: for a long time, women in particular took care of these tasks. Will the corona pandemic mean that they are increasingly being pushed back into traditional role models? A look at the role of mothers in the crisis.

Berlin (dpa) - They play with their children, cook, read aloud, give lessons - and may also work full-time on the side. Parents are challenged more than ever in the corona pandemic.

Especially in times of lockdown, they replace friends, daycare and school. But does this apply equally to fathers and mothers? Or does the crisis mean that families fall into classic role models even more?

Classic distribution of tasks even before the pandemic

It is unclear whether the crisis will lead to setbacks in gender equality, says Heike Ohlbrecht, Professor of Sociology at the University of Magdeburg. “Perhaps the crisis is just making inequalities more visible that existed before. Even before the pandemic, we had a predominantly classic division of responsibilities in the families, ”she says before Mother's Day on May 9th.

Surveys during the pandemic make it clear in any case that in the crisis it is mainly women who are responsible for raising children and doing housework. In a survey commissioned by the Bertelsmann Stiftung shortly after the first lockdown, 51 percent of the mothers said that they would predominantly take care of the children's homeschooling. Only 15 percent of fathers said that about themselves. In other tasks, the burden was even more pronounced on women: around two thirds of them said that they usually did the general housework and cooking.

However, every second woman said that the tasks were unevenly distributed even before the crisis. "In this respect, the corona pandemic has not caused a relapse into traditional roles, but rather seems to bring to light that the traditional division of roles between men and women in Germany was hardly broken at all," writes Barbara von Würzen from the Bertelsmann Foundation . In times of crisis, women would seemingly take on tasks again, for which there would otherwise be support from daycare centers.

Women reduce their working hours more often

Sociologist Ohlbrecht also believes that traditional role models are still widespread. “When both are in the home office, the woman often cooks,” she says - and refers to a second factor: economic constraints. Since in many cases women still earn less, it is an understandable decision that they reduce working hours in order to look after their children in lockdown. "The crisis acts like a magnifying glass for inequalities," said Ohlbrecht.

The Institute for Employment Research also states that domestic work is predominantly done by women. But: According to a survey, men would have reduced their working hours a little more than women. They would also be involved in childcare more often than before the crisis. "That speaks against the thesis that the Covid-19 pandemic is leading to a retraditionalization of gender relations in this area," it says on the website.

However, sociologist Ohlbrecht says that many men started family work at a relatively low level. "Women, on the other hand, have already taken on a lot more family work and are now saddling on it." The consequence: In the first lockdown, mothers said they were more stressed, exhausted, nervous and fearful than fathers, according to a study by the University of Magdeburg.

Loads increase with the length of the lockdown

The research team around Ohlbrecht is currently evaluating a survey in the second lockdown. “Our second survey shows that the longer the lockdown lasts, the greater the psychosocial stress,” says Ohlbrecht. The subjective burden increases especially with mothers.

Will the crisis lead to a more traditional division of roles among couples in the long term? Trade unions, gender researchers and Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) warn against this. Ohlbrecht, on the other hand, is more confident: “I'm optimistic that women won't put up with it like that.” The pandemic could also have positive effects: A social debate about the compatibility of family and work.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210507-99-508918 / 2

IAB on women in the corona crisis

Sociologist Allmendiger with Anne Will