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56% of women on Mumsnet fear we’re ‘going back to the 1970s’

A new Mumsnet survey of over 1200 women has revealed that a majority fear that equality for women has been dragged backwards over the past year.

By Justine Roberts | Last updated May 25, 2021

Equal Rights Sign

56% of all women surveyed agreed that ‘when it comes to women’s place in work, the home and in society, we’re in danger of going back to the 1970s’. Even more starkly, half (49%) think gender/sex equality will regress over the next few years, while only 32% think it will improve.

Equality at work

69% say they are worried about the long-term impact of COVID on women’s employment and seniority at work. Of those women with caring responsibilities, 28% say their responsibilities have affected their professional reputation during the past year. 24% are considering leaving the workforce entirely, while a further 22% are considering becoming self-employed. 32% say they are ‘concerned’ about their sector’s prospects and viability in the near-to-mid-term future, including 82% of those employed in travel and tourism, and 70% of those employed in charity and social enterprises.

Women who work part-time have been particularly hard-hit over the past year, with 13% saying they’ve had their hours at work reduced (as opposed to 7% of those in full-time work), and 21% saying they’re been furloughed (as opposed to 10% of those in full-time work).

Equality at home

At home the picture is even more bleak, with the weight for almost all common domestic tasks falling squarely on women’s shoulders.

Percentage of women living with a male partner who say they do all or most of the following common domestic tasks:

  • laundry: 73%

  • home schooling: 70%

  • healthcare appointments: 69%

  • life admin: 64%

  • food shopping: 62%

  • cleaning and tidying up: 61%

  • childcare outside school hours: 60%

  • cooking: 60%

48% said they shared children’s bath-and-bed routines equally with their partner. The only task that most (51%) said fell mostly to their male partners was emptying the bins.

However, there have been some positives emerging from the past year. 69% say their partner has spent more time with the kids than he usually would, and 43% say their partner now has a greater understanding of what’s involved in day-to-day childcare. 63% say they’re now closer as a family unit.

70% say their employer is now more open to working from home and flexible working than they were before, while 94% that ‘lockdown has shown employers that working from home and flexible working are viable options’.

50% say their partner would like to work from home more, or work more flexibly, in the future, and 5% say their partner is actively considering changing jobs or reducing their hours to spend more time with the children – rising to 12% in the under-35 age group.

Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: “Amid all the social media posts about International Women’s Day, it’s crucial to focus on the fact that daily life for women over the past year has not only not been equal: it’s been getting worse. It’s essential that the government urgently put in place measures that address women’s needs and give them the support they need to reach their potential, whatever their background.”


For further information contact [email protected].

Notes to editors: Survey of 1217 women in the UK, carried out between February 26 and March 4 2021. The data is not weighted.