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Remote Work: Through Gendered Lenses(Has remote work been beneficial to the female workforce)

Remote work or work from anywhere is the current buzzword amongst employers
and employees alike with flexibility becoming the top most priority for both sections of the job
market. Ever since the pandemic, we have been seeing a rise in remote work policies, global hiring
solutions and practices. In this article, we will be looking at how this major change impacted the
workforce, through the gender lens i.e. has it been a boon or a bane for the women workforce. We
will also be looking at some of the practices that employers can adapt to foster women
empowerment and supporting gender equality.

PATRIARCHY AND SECOND SHIFT: We live in a highly patriarchal society even now. Although things
are changing with human beings and society constantly progressing with the change in times yet we
have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in many aspects. One such aspect is the nature of
work. Women are the primary caregivers due to their biological ability to give birth and hence, all
the household chores and activities are considered to be that of a “women’s work”. This includes,
taking care of children, dependent family members, household chores like cooking, cleaning
etcetera. Working women (who works for a living) are also expected to take care of their work inside
and outside of home. Many gender study specialists and sociologists use the term “second shift” for
working women as they have to take care of their household chores as well as work to earn a living.
GENDER INEQAULITY AT WORKPLACES: Another facet of patriarchy is the gendered inequality at
workplaces. As per several studies and reports it is often seen that women are paid less than men in
various domains of work. Similarly, they are offered less hikes during appraisals or not considered
for promotion (especially those who come back from their maternity leave). This places them at an
unequal level which is unfair and unjustified.
The pandemic, followed by the economic recession was believed to hit harder for women but the
opposite was seen happening. With the onset of digital remote work, it was seen that the female
labour force participation increased, with more and more women entering and re-entering the job
market. There were more and more women who began looking out for work, started applying for
jobs, and finally got recruited for various roles. Many economists started using the term “she-
cession” for this phenomenon of a rise in female labour force participation
“Remote work is central to allowing people with caregiving responsibilities the flexibility and control
over their schedules that they need to provide that care,” Collins said.
The major reason for this was the onset of remote work which allowed women to work from their
comforts of their homes. This provided them with a flexibility where they were able to take care of
their children/ dependent family members/ household chores and also work for a living. They were
able to schedule their day as per their needs and maintain a good work-life balance. This was
particularly helpful for single women and mothers who did not have any one else to look after the
house/ children and remote work came as a blessing for them.
Also, it is seen that remote work was always preferred by women even before the pandemic and the
onset of remote work due to gender inequalities faced by women at their workplaces-

 Women of colour especially feels left out or discriminated on the basis of their race in many
aspects of work life. This often puts them at a disadvantageous position. Now, with the
option of working from their comfort zones, they feel much more welcomed and
 Mothers, or pregnant women also feels inequal treatment at workplaces since most of them
do not get promoted or given hikes especially when they come back from maternity leaves
and they have to start working towards it again from scratch. When women become
mothers, they are expected to cut back on paid work, and it adversely affects perceptions of
their career prospects
Remote work has undoubtedly increased working opportunities for women but sometimes, this may
act as a bane for them by adding more responsibilities on them which might have a negative impact
on them. Therefore, employers and businesses should take up some proactive measures to prevent
this from happening-

  1. Providing paid maternity and paternity leaves to all: Employers should provide both
    paternity and maternity leaves to all its employers as this will ensure that child bearing
    responsibilities are equally divided amongst both the parents and women alone are not
    expected to do this. This will also ensure that all the burden does not fall upon the women
    and both the partners learn to manage and divide responsibilities equally.
  2. Setting clear expectations for remote workers: Employers should set clear expectations to all
    its remote workers so that they can schedule and plan their work in advance and do not
    overwork/ end up working all throughout the day. This will also help in achieving a good
    work-life balance and have a healthy working culture
  3. Affordable and subsidized child care: Affordable and accessible child care is necessary to
    keep women from doing a disproportionate amount of it themselves while they work
  4. Diversity and Inclusivity hiring: Employers should focus on having diverse and inclusive hiring
    practices to allow more and more deserving women to enter the workforces.

In conclusion, we can say that remote work has definitely allowed women the
flexibility to manage a good work-life balance. But at the same time, employers should be sensitive
and follow practices which empower women and promote as well as support gender equality.


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