Diversity and Inclusion  

A lifetime of financial inequality

A lifetime of financial inequality

Far from being a great leveller, coronavirus has exacerbated inequalities that existed in society before the pandemic hit.

University of Sussex researchers – who surveyed more than 2,000 parents in March – recently raised fears that the coronavirus had caused women to “regress to a 1950s way of living” that will have “serious consequences” in the future.

The university’s data showed 45 per cent of mothers have been responsible for the bulk of childcare during the outbreak – up from 27 per cent before Covid-19 – and as a result the gender pay gap is “widening even further”.

The university’s research showed seven out of 10 women are now completely or mainly responsible for home schooling.

The research exposes the devastating impact the coronavirus is having on women.

Key Points

  • Women are reverting to a less financially stable way of life following Covid-19
  • The insurance industry has committed to highlight women’s financial inequality
  • The CII is looking at the conversations people need to have with their family

Coronavirus is widening the financial inequality that exists between men and women, but it is important we recognise a comparison with the way women lived in the 1950s does not expose the depth of the current problem.

Last year, Insuring Women’s Futures, the first stage of the Insuring Futures programme established and led by the Chartered Insurance Institute, noted the way we work, love, live and age has changed dramatically since the 1950s.

Unlike my maternal grandmother, who stayed at home to raise three children while my grandfather worked, I went to university, edited FTAdviser and Financial Adviser for many years, had two children and am now communications director of the Chartered Insurance Institute and Personal Finance Society.

I have had career and work/life opportunities that my grandmother’s generation would not have imagined to be possible.

However, with those opportunities has come the withdrawal of financial protections afforded to my grandmother’s generation.

Being part of a secure marriage and family unit, backed up by social care, was no longer the norm even before the coronavirus pandemic.

My generation – and my daughter’s generation – were already on course to be more financially independent but also less financially resilient than my grandmother’s and mother’s generation before coronavirus hit.

Insuring Women’s Futures concluded this meant the fundamental infrastructure to enable women to transition from the 1950s to the modern day, and to financially succeed in the future, were simply not in place before the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus has further weakened some of the already fragile infrastructure that allowed women to work towards achieving their own financial independence and improving their resilience.

As Ali Lacey, one of the University of Sussex’s researchers, pointed out during the coronavirus pandemic: “We hear about women waking at 5am, working until 9am, then taking on childcare and home learning and doing more work in the evening.”

As a result of Covid-19, many women had to reduce hours or even quit their jobs in order to care for shielding parents or home school their children as the government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives resulted in schools shutting their doors to most children and childcare disappearing in the blink of an eye.