INEQUALITY in the home has increased during lockdown, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Sussex have found that childcare and domestic responsibilities are not being shared equally between working parents amid the coronavirus crisis.

The preliminary findings from more than 2,000 participants in the ongoing study show 70 per cent of women reported being completely or mostly responsible for supporting children with home-learning.

Of those who work, 73 per cent of mothers have reported working from home as difficult or very difficult, and about three in four mothers said they have been the parent who tends to meet children’s needs during lockdown. The study is open to parents with at least one child currently enrolled in primary school in the UK, and the results are based on an analysis of responses from female participants with a male partner.

Ali Lacey, a doctoral researcher in the School of Psychology who co-led the study, said: “What we found was that women are more likely to be the default parent.

“They are more likely to have quit their jobs entirely, taken unpaid leave or taken furlough.

“All of these options are negatively impacting on women’s place in working life.

“Some women have described work as a luxury, as they just don’t have the time or space.”

The research was prompted by the pandemic and data collection began on March 27.

Ali said: “As soon as homeworking was announced and schools were likely to close, I was thinking, how is this going to work?

“They had not made provisions for parents with dependent children.”

On average, seven weeks after lockdown, 48 per cent of female respondents with a male partner reported that his access to time, space, and equipment to work had been prioritised over her own, compared with 17 per cent of mothers who felt their own work had been prioritised.

Ali said: “This is about gender inequality but the study is part of a bigger project about parent and child mental health during lockdown.

“We were not surprised by the findings but they are quite depressing. Families have had to make hard decisions and it has fallen down these traditional lines. Coronavirus has forced people to make stark choices.”

The researchers fear the impact of coronavirus

could set back progress for women.

Ali added: “The Government needs to acknowledge these challenges and it would be really useful for them to give very clear advice to employers and businesses about what is reasonable to expect from families with dependant children on productivity.

“We have spoken to mums who have been waking up really early to try and do some work in the morning before they take on childcare, and then working late in the evening after children have gone to bed.

“We are expecting redundancies and productivity during lockdown should not be a factor in this, because women have had to take time to look after their children.”