Author Archives: Heejung Chung

Flexible working and Gender Equality

Flexible working and gender equality : What we need to do to meet gender diversity and performance enhancing targets at the same time Across the world, there is a new awareness of gender inequalities with an increasing demand to tackle this issue. In the UK, in 2018 the government set up new requirements for large companies to publish their gender pay gap. Not only has this raised awareness of the extent to which women are paid less, it has also led to many looking hard to find solutions.

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Return of the 1950s housewife? How to stop coronavirus lockdown reinforcing sexist gender roles

shurkin_son/Shutterstock

Heejung Chung, University of Kent

As the COVID-19 virus spreads across the world, many governments have shut down schools, nurseries and other care providers. With more and more people working from home, it is likely that many families will find themselves in a situation where both parents are trying to work from the kitchen table while also attempting to home-school the children.

This, on top of the regular household chores as well as cooking and cleaning can feel like an extra load for many parents at this time. The likelihood is though that despite both parents now being at home, much of the “domestic” work will still land squarely on the shoulders of the women of the house. So much like the 1950s housewife, women will not only be expected to make exciting meals, keep the house clean and tidy and the children entertained – but she’ll also have to do all this while working from home.

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Employer’s Experiences of the Covid-19 Lockdown and Homeworking

Information sheet

Thank you for taking an interest in this exciting new joint project between the Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-life Balance Project, based at the University of Kent and the Equal Parenting Project, based at the University of Birmingham.

Study Purpose and Rationale

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020 and the UK government announced a comprehensive lockdown across the entire country on the 23rd March 2020, which limited all unnecessary travel and required all non-essential workers to work from home where possible. These changes have had a dramatic impact on people’s lives, working patterns and family relationships. In this research, we aim to understand how this pandemic, lockdown and working from home has been managed by managers and organisations, and how it will influence the nature of work post lockdown. This survey will inform UK government and company policies on flexible working.

Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

To be eligible to participate in this research, participants must be at least 18 years old, reside in the United Kingdom, be in dependent employment (not self-employed) and line manage employees. Individuals who do not meet all of the inclusion criteria stated above will not be eligible to participate in this study.

Participation Procedures and Duration

You will be asked to complete an online survey in Qualtrics. Each organisation will be provided the link directly. This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. The survey will focus on how you have managed staff during the COVID-19 lockdown, working patterns, levels of trust and attitudes to homeworking across the organisation since the COVID-19 lockdown.

Data Confidentiality or Anonymity

All data will remain confidential and any quotes or data used in final outputs will be anonymised. Identifying information will only be collected in the form of email addresses if you choose to enter the prize draw.

Storage of Data and Data Retention Period

The data will be stored on a password protected computer accessed only by the research team members. Future data sets may be generated without any personal or identifying information and deposited to the UK Data Archive[1] indefinitely to inform other researchers on future studies on work and organisations.

Your input in this survey will be of great benefit for the research to understand how the lockdown and home working have impacted working patterns and attitudes to homeworking. The data will be used to help inform government and company policies on these issues. We are working closely with several government bodies to ensure your opinions are heard by key policy makers.

Researcher Contact Information

This research project is a joint project by researchers based at the University of Kent and the University of Birmingham. It has gone through and has been approved by SRC Ethics Panel of the University of Kent School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. For more information about your rights as a participant, please refer to the University of Kent’s privacy notice: https://research.kent.ac.uk/researchservices/privacy-notice/

For more information about this research, you can contact Dr. Sarah Forbes S.Forbes@bham.ac.uk or Dr. Heejung Chung. H.Chung@kent.ac.uk .

To raise any concerns about the ethical nature of this project, please contact the Chair of the ethics committee Karen Jones: K.C.Jones@kent.ac.uk.


[1] The UK Data Archive is a national centre of expertise in data archiving in the United Kingdom. It houses the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK. It is certified under the Data Seal of Approval as a trusted digital repository. For more see: https://www.data-archive.ac.uk/

Working from home during COVID-19 Lockdown

This is the webpage for the exciting new joint project of Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-life Balance project, based at the University of Kent, and Equal Parenting project based at the University of Birmingham which aimed to gain insights on how work and home-life have changed throughout the lockdown period and how these changes might have a profound impact on both, the future of work and gendered cultural norms around care in the UK.

Study Purpose and Rationale

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020 and the UK government announced a comprehensive lockdown across the entire country on the 23rd March 2020, which limits all unnecessary travel and ask all non-essential workers to work from home where possible. These changes have had a dramatic impact on people’s lives, working patterns and family relationships. In this research we aim to understand how this pandemic, the lockdown and working from home has influenced a range of work-life issues and preferences and attitudes on flexible working for workers in the UK.

Survey

We have conducted a survey of working population focusing mostly on working parents with children under the age of 18. The survey data was collected between 22nd of May to the 15th of June – when the UK government has announced workers who cannot work from home can go back into their offices/work places.

Report

To download the full report please click below:

Click here for more information about the survey participants’ profile.

We will be publishing more results as we go along hopefully through journal articles. When they are published we will post them here so watch this space!

Researcher Contact Information

This research project is a joint project by researchers based at the University of Kent and the University of Birmingham. It has gone through and has been approved by SRC Ethics Panel of the University of Kent School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. For more information about your rights as a participant, please refer to the University of Kent’s privacy notice: https://research.kent.ac.uk/researchservices/privacy-notice/

For more information about this research you can contact Dr. Heejung Chung. H.chung@kent.ac.uk





Why the gender pay gap is an enduring challenge for many organisations

In April of 2018, large companies with over 250 employees were obliged to report their gender pay gap for the first time. Headlines that week were dominated by some of the surprise and shock of the extent to which women were paid less in majority of the companies reported, while for many women it just confirmed our hidden beliefs. There was a slight optimism, however, that there can only be progress. However, many companies who are reporting their new pay gap for this year show that rather than progress, many have increased their gaps. Why is this the case?

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Flexible working can reinforce gender stereotypes

Flexible working is becoming a must for many. One recent report found a quarter of UK workers have refused a job due to a lack of flexibility. This number jumps to 40% for millennial workers for whom work-life balance and flexible working is key when evaluating a job prospect.

Many hope that flexible working can help tackle the persistent gender pay gap. This is why the UK government announced a review of the right to flexible working in 2019 and the prime minister, Theresa May, said firms should strive to make it a reality for all staff, while urging companies to ensure women are better represented at senior levels. But my work with Tanja van der Lippe into the reality of how flexible working plays out shows that it can end up reinforcing gender stereotypes if cultural norms go unchecked.

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Flexible working stigma must end to ensure better use of flexible working

Research from Yougov shows that the majority of workers want to have some sort of flexibility in their work, with more than half wanting to deviate away from the traditional 9 to 5 routine. It has also been shown that just under half of workers are already working flexibly one way or another.

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This is why all jobs should be advertised as flexible

Flexible working for family reasons should be celebrated.
via shutterstock.com

 

Why flexible working is key if shared parental leave is to have a lasting impact on the gender pay gap

Heejung Chung, University of Kent

All large companies in the UK have been rushing to report their gender pay gap by an April 5 deadline, when new rules came into force to tackle the stubborn gap between the salaries of men and women.

Motherhood is a key reason why this gender pay gap persists. Many women leave the labour market or move into part-time jobs after giving birth, which has a knock-on effect on their pay. This is partly due to conservative views regarding the division of labour in the UK, where most mothers take on the bulk of childcare and housework. Even when mothers choose to maintain their careers after childbirth, there can be an inherent bias towards them due to societal perceptions that they will prioritise their family over their work.

The best way to solve this problem is to ensure that fathers, or partners, are made to take on as much of a role in childcare as mothers. One way to do this is to give them the opportunity to spend time with their new-born babies, as well as to provide them with the opportunity to be more hands on later in the child’s life.

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