New study will explore the impact of Covid-19 on gender inequalities in the UK workforce

Wednesday, 03 February 2021

A new study by social inequality experts will investigate how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the working lives of people in the UK and the potential differences in the experiences of men and women.

The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with the UK Women’s Budget Group, is examining how the workplaces of women and men, and the very experience of work, have been impacted as the pandemic effects rolled out in 2020 and into 2021.

Researchers will analyse whether the pandemic is narrowing or reinforcing existing gender inequalities in ways of working, and whether it has created new inequalities.

Through access to large datasets, the team will produce new multi-dimensional gendered analyses of the working lives of women and men in the UK. The experts will be able to track key labour force changes as the effects of the pandemic roll out and assess if there are differences among women and men in their levels of unemployment, their hours worked and typical earnings.

The study will also allow for analysis of different industries and workplaces, including which businesses were most likely to close; the extent of remote working; and whether this varied by gender composition of the workers.

The project, led by Professor Tracey Warren and Dr Luis Torres of Nottingham University Business School, has been awarded funding to accelerate use of data for vital Covid-19 research following a rapid call for initiatives by Health Data Research UK, the Office for National Statistics and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It will expand on Professor Warren’s existing research project, in collaboration with Professor Clare Lyonette at the University of Warwick and the UK Women’s Budget Group, analysing how the pandemic is affecting working-class women.

The research project will form part of the larger Data and Connectivity National Core Study. This study is led by Health Data Research UK in partnership with the Office for National Statistics and enables access to health and administrative data from across the UK and provides the infrastructure for vital data research.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. It has created job loss, work instability, financial hardship and great insecurity. It is generating deep problems for much of the working population in the UK, but it also impacts in starkly different ways on different groups of workers. This project will allow us to build a full picture of the entire UK workforce and pinpoint areas or groups which need urgent help.
Professor Tracey Warren, Nottingham University Business School

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director of the UK Women’s Budget Group, said: “The Women’s Budget Group is delighted to be part of this really important project. Early data shows that the pandemic, and Government response, has had a gendered impact. This project will provide valuable new evidence showing which groups have been hardest hit in order to inform policy interventions.”

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More information is available from Professor Tracey Warren at or Dr Luis Torres at at the Nottingham University Business School

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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