As the prospect of a second coronavirus wave looms large, a series of studies have revealed women are more vulnerable to the negative financial and employment impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, courtesy of their increased likelihood of being in the casual or disposable workforces.
According to the ABC, women are over-represented in the underemployed and far more likely to have had their hours cut during the economic downturn of Covid-19.
As a result, they are feeling the emotional toll, reporting increased loneliness and alcohol consumption.
Together, the data paints a telling picture of women’s tenuous employment in casual or caregiving sectors and how the stress of Covid-19 is impacting them disproportionately.
In June, data from The Australia Institute revealed at the height of Coronavirus lockdowns in March and April, women lost their jobs at a far greater rate than men.
During these months, the number of women employed fell 5.3 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent for men.
The number of hours those in employment worked also slumped disproportionately. The data revealed women lost 11.5 per cent of their hours while men’s hours dropped by 7.5 per cent.
Commenting on the data to the ABC, University of South Australia Professor Barbara Pocock noted it bore all the hallmarks of a “pink recession”.
"That reflects where women are employed, they are disproportionately employed as casuals because of their caring responsibilities,” she said.
"They are disproportionately in sectors where we have lost a lot of employment and lot of hours of work, like hospitality, education and tourism."
Australian Bureau of Statistics data from last year indicates women far outnumber men in the fields of retail trade, accommodation and food services, administration and support services, education and training, and healthcare and social assistance.
Each of these sectors has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns.
Hospitality all but shut down, while women also make up a high proportion of carer roles, which saw all but essential services grind to a halt as the elderly and vulnerable self-isolated.
More importantly, women are far more likely to be employed in a casual capacity or part-time due to commitments on the home front like child rearing.
The ABS data further indicated 43.4 per cent of employed women aged 20-74 years old worked part time in 2018 compared to 16.0 per cent of employed men.
Meanwhile, women are also more likely to work in casual jobs than men.
“In 2018, 27 per cent of female employees aged 15 years and over did not have paid leave entitlements, compared with 23 per cent of male employees,” the ABS explained.
This part-time and casual employment placed women in a particularly precarious position when Covid-19 saw the economy grind to a halt.
Many were simply ineligible for support payments like JobKeeper and JobSeeker.
University of Sydney Professor Marian Baird told the ABC in a further article: “It really is a gendered outcome”.
"We've seen women lose hours of work [in higher proportions than men], they are far more likely to be on zero-hours jobs than men, and secondly, they are far more likely not to be eligible for JobKeeper — so women are really doing it hard in this recession."
In perhaps a stark indicator of the emotional toll, Australian National University research noted Covid-19 saw women also more likely to reach for the bottle than men.
Female drinkers were 1.3 times more likely to increase their drinking than men, particularly women aged 35 to 44 with a university degree
Meanwhile a survey by the ABS on the household impacts of Covid-19 also found women were more likely to be affected by loneliness.
Twenty-eight per cent of women reported loneliness as a source of personal stress compared to 16 per cent of men during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Together these studies indicate the recent economic downturn might be a recession not of our own making and one we have to have, but women it seems are bearing the brunt of the economic, employment and emotional burden.