The Covid Crisis Has Hit Working Women the Hardest

Working women are more affected and burdened by the Covid crisis than men: reconciling home office with homeschooling, missing work for weeks of toddler care or overtime in the crucial, yet poorly paid professions. The often discussed gender inequality during the crisis has now been proven by the representative study “Employee Focus Germany” by the Mainz-based market research and consulting company 2HMforum.

During the Covid pandemic, 2HMforum. conducted a special survey among a total of 1,000 employees subject to social security/insurance contributions in 2020. The survey focused on the impact of the crisis on the relationship between employer and employee – and how everyday working life has changed.

The result: 51 percent of the women in the survey said that their daily work routine was strongly affected by the Covid – by shortened worktime, salary losses, budget cuts, fears, promotion freezes, the decline of business, by a new working environment in the home office coinciding with childcare, etc. In contrast, the figure for men is 44 percent.

Financial disadvantages

It is well known that “women’s jobs” such as cashiers and nurses are low-paid, although they are considered system-relevant and enormously important during the crisis. The study also reveals that across all sectors, working women are facing additional financial disadvantages as a result of the crisis: they are much more affected by wage cuts and shortened worktime than men. 71 percent of female employees – and only 66 percent of men – state that they are affected in companies, where the measure “short-time work” has been implemented or planned. In the case of the measure “salary or wage cuts,” 62 percent of women say they are affected – but only 51 percent of men. “The view into the future is rather bleak for female employees,” analyzes Dr. Frederik Meyer, study leader and member of the management team at 2HMforum. “The study shows us: every fifth working woman expects a deterioration of her own economic situation in the next 6 months. Here, companies should immediately enter into communication with employees via their managers and help to reduce fears and negative expectations.”

Double burden of work and family

Across all industries, employees and their bosses have moved to home offices on short notice in the millions. 39 percent of the employees surveyed say they have worked at home, either wholly or in part due to the pandemic. Of these, 27 percent are currently caring for their children at home – owing to daycare and school closures – and are thus balancing work and family life under more difficult conditions. Although almost the same number of men and women say they work from home and look after their daycare or school children at the same time, a closer look reveals where the double burden lies: 54 percent of mothers complain that their productivity suffers as a result of looking after their children at home. Only 34 percent of fathers, on the other hand, feel that their productivity is impaired.

Women are more motivated

Despite the additional burden placed on working women by Covid and gender inequality in everyday working life, the Employee Focus Germany 2020 study shows: Women are significantly more motivated than men in their work and feel more pleasure from their work. Additionally: They are happy to do more than is expected.

About the study design:

For the study “Employee Focus Germany – Special Survey Covid Pandemic”, the market research and consulting company 2HMforum. from Mainz surveyed a total of 1,000 employees subject to social security/insurance contributions in the first half of May 2020. The data was weighted according to gender, age, company size class as well as company sector. The study has been conducted regularly every 1 to 2 years since 2005 and examines the fan behavior of employees and the employee relationship quality of German companies according to the renowned fan principle.


Frederik Meyer

Member of the Executive Board, Head of Emotional Employee Engagement