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Gender ‘care gap’ harming women’s jobs

Women are three times more likely to take time off to look after children

A gender care gap is costing women at work because they manage the majority of childcare and often also care for elderly relatives, research suggests. 

AIG’s study of more than 3,000 adults found women are nearly three times more likely to have to take time off work to look after children.

Overall, 74% of women are the main carer for children taking short or long periods off work to look after family compared with just 26% of men.

There are signs younger generations are changing attitudes – more than half (51%) of men aged under-35 said they are the main carer for their children compared with 73% of women aged under-35.

The poll reveals a more balanced picture when caring for elderly relatives – 76% of women believe they will be the main carer for an elderly relative compared with just 62% of men. However, just one in three women who take time out of the workplace to be a carer plan to return to full-time jobs compared with 59% of men.

The research shows women generally enjoy their jobs more – 58% of women said they enjoy their jobs compared with 52% of men. But this is not translating into achieving career potential as 42% of men believe they have overachieved in their career compared to 36% of women.

Debbie Bolton, head of customer services and chief underwriter at AIG Life, said all families need to consider where the care burden will fall and how they will manage financially if a family member is too ill to work, too ill to care for others and if they need someone to care for them.

“How will they manage financially if they have to give up work to care for a sick child, partner or elderly relative? None of us know what is around the corner, but we can take practical steps to plan for the future so we have the financial safety net to make choices based on what our family needs,” she added. 

AIG’s research found 12% of people questioned have already either given up work or gone part-time to care for others.