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Who cares during a pandemic? Exploring the gendered nature of care work among staff at a SOUTH African University during Covid-19 lockdown


Carike Claassen
Alicia Fourie

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to investigate how staff at a South African university have coped with care work in the home during lockdown. Care work  tends to be gendered and we therefore expect that lockdown will have impacted men and women differently. This study used mixed methods to  investigate the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on care work perfomed by different categories of staff at a South African university. Findings from thematic  analysis reveal common themes which emerged around care work in the home during lockdown. These are, inter alia, the importance of community,  balance, partnership and career. Within these common themes, different experiences are further dissected in this article. We conclude that gender norms  underpinning care work are complex, fluid and context dependent, but that the lockdown helped participants realise the importance of achieving  the right work–life balance.