A catalyst for social change? Work-life balance and the Covid-19 pandemic response policies’ implications for gender equality
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With the redefinition of paid and unpaid work arrangements pushed by the Covid-19 crisis, already existing challenges for gender equality further sharpened. More than men, women increased their unpaid care workload, due to the suspension of childcare services and the implementation of homeschooling, often in combination with working from home arrangements. This resulted in highly stressful managements of work-life balance and a tendency to the re-traditionalization of gender roles. Are the observed changes stable? To better understand the long-term implications for gender equality, the study describes the possible mechanisms of social change that the pandemic might trigger and discusses the system of policies implemented in the EU27 that could have moderated or fueled pre-existing gender inequalities. According to the exposure to the new structural arrangements, including the gendered use of flexible working arrangements, the changes observed might be crystalized in the future «new normal» with relevant consequences for gender equality