Childcare and Remote Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ideal Worker Model, Parenthood and Gender Inequalities in Italy

Maddalena Cannito, Alice Scavarda


The paper illustrates the results of a qualitative study conducted in Italy during the lockdown, and aimed at investigating the consequences of remote work on work-life balance and gender inequalities in the division of paid and unpaid labor within heterosexual couples. Drawing from 20 online in-depth interviews with 10 heterosexual couples, the paper highlights the expansion of work over other domains, which worsened with remote work. Even if for some interviewed men it was an occasion to experience a more involved fatherhood, for the majority of them a rethinking of their commitment in paid work is inconceivable. Conversely, mothers are more keen on considering job requests as negotiable and perceive a pervasive interference of work on family life, while their husbands often claim that childcare activities may reduce their productivity. Remote work does not allow the redefinition of the working models and does not improve the work-life balance of interviewed couples, which is still considerably unbalanced towards job, with a limited space and time for individual activities. Moreover, remote work, even in this unprecedented extreme situation, does not modify gender normative roles within domestic domain and thus it reproduces and sometimes exacerbates gender inequalities with women trying to balance their double role and fathers expanding the time devoted to work.


work-life balance; remote work; gender inequalities

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