Michelle Cullen has long brown hair. She is wearing a green blouse and smiles at the camera. She is standing outside with a wall and some trees visible behind her.
Dr Michelle Cullen, managing director and inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture Ireland. Image: Coalesce

Gender roles ‘stubbornly stuck in an older world’, Accenture survey finds

8 Mar 2023

The research found that 46pc of women have considered downshifting or leaving the workforce this year, with childcare responsibilities cited as the main reason.

New research from Accenture has found that “gender inequality has been exacerbated by the pandemic”. The research explored the work-life balance demands on employees in Ireland post Covid-19.

Qualtrics Research surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 employed people aged 18 to 65 across Ireland, with fieldwork conducted in February 2023.

Post-pandemic working life

Overall, three-quarters of people surveyed say that demands on their personal time and daily work routine have changed since the pandemic.

More than half of respondents (58pc) feel they need to be more ‘available’ for work since the start of the pandemic.

The survey shows people’s health has been impacted since the pandemic with 87pc of women and 75pc of men saying they feel more burnt-out now, and 71pc of women and 54pc of men saying their physical and mental wellbeing has suffered.

Gender roles

According to the survey, women are still the primary caregivers, as 77pc of respondents identify women as most likely to experience childcare difficulties and 64pc saying women are more likely to request changes to their working patterns to facilitate unpaid caring responsibilities.

The result of these extra responsibilities is that almost half of women surveyed (46pc) have considered downshifting or leaving the workforce altogether this year. Over a third of women (36pc) cite the impact of childcare responsibilities as the biggest reason for possibly downshifting their work or even leaving their job.

Increased pressure and stress are cited as the main reasons why 36pc of men are considering downshifting or leaving the workforce.

“What our survey shows is that ideas about the roles of women and men in home-building and raising a family are stubbornly stuck in an older world,” said Dr Michelle Cullen, MD and inclusion and diversity lead at Accenture in Ireland.

“These biases persist in our education systems, our businesses and even in our own family systems, and if we want to change the post-pandemic workplace, we need to confront these biases.”

Cullen highlighted the “sense of frustration among the women in this survey” who, she says, recognise that “something will have to give if they want to raise a family and forge ahead in their career to the best of their ability.”

The survey respondents identified actions employers can take to better support people. The most popular suggestions include a promotion or pay rise (21pc), flexible working options (18pc), and providing improved parental leave and sick leave (11pc).

Cullen advises: “We must address these issues now to ensure that the next generation enter the workplace with a better shot at achieving a work-life balance and share responsibility for raising the next generation.”

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Rebecca Graham
By Rebecca Graham

Rebecca Graham joined Silicon Republic in 2023 as production editor. She previously worked in communications and technical writing. She is interested in current affairs, culture and the climate.

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