Thursday, October 20, 2022
Tammy Katsabian, The Work-Life Virus: Working from Home and its Implications for the Gender Gap and Questions of Intersectionality, Forthcoming in the Oklahoma Law Review
Work–life balance is considered to be the top challenge for working women globally. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a worldwide experiment regarding the various components of this challenge and its possible solutions. Because the pandemic forced numerous workers to shift their working lives from the office to their private homes, it created the largest global experiment in remote work in human history, with implications for women’s equality.
As this article wishes to show, the phenomenon of remote work illuminates gender inequality and the difficulty of work–life balance. Since remote work is mainly conducted from the personal residence of the employee, it generates a hybrid private–professional site and brings to the workplace context the private characteristics of the employee. Thus, remote work exposes how women’s traditional role in the private sphere—caregivers—influences their ability to progress at work. The ubiquity of the trend of remote work during the pandemic also revealed what third-wave feminism argued long ago: the feminine experience is not unitary; different women must cope with different difficulties. The pandemic showed that the ability to shift to remote work and successfully balance work with familial duties is not uniform among women. Questions of financial and marital status are also part of this equation.
It appears that working from a distance with the help of technology will become the most prominent way to conduct work in the future. Unless different regulatory models are developed, the current massive telecommuting trend has the potential to strengthen gendered and socioeconomic inequalities in U.S. society. Against this background, this article suggests a model for a solution that considers private–professional hybridity and both employers and governmental authorities. In this way, the article offers broad systemic solutions intended to diminish the effect of an employee’s familial and socioeconomic background on her ability to shift to telework on an equal basis with others and, in doing so, participate equally in the digitalized labor market of the future.