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Why women are suffering from burnout and what we can do about it

The pandemic has exposed a lot of truths, one being that unseen, unpaid work is disproportionately done by women. Can we change this?

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Emotional labour as we understand it now is the constant daily organising, overseeing, arranging, remembering, reminding, co-ordinating and multi-tasking. The term, however, was coined in 1983 by US sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild to refer to the suppression or induction of emotions for the purposes of paid work - no one likes a grumpy waiter!

Emotional labour as we understand it now is the constant daily organising, overseeing, arranging, remembering, reminding, co-ordinating and multi-tasking. The term, however, was coined in 1983 by US sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild to refer to the suppression or induction of emotions for the purposes of paid work - no one likes a grumpy waiter!

Emotional labour as we understand it now is the constant daily organising, overseeing, arranging, remembering, reminding, co-ordinating and multi-tasking. The term, however, was coined in 1983 by US sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild to refer to the suppression or induction of emotions for the purposes of paid work - no one likes a grumpy waiter!

When you think about emotional labour, if you think about it at all, chances are (a) you're a woman and (b) you'd define it as reminding your husband to send his mother a birthday card. You'll be doing this while cross-referencing the family calendar to ensure the play date doesn't clash with the doctor's appointment, remembering who needs a lift where, what time the plumber is coming, and that the dog needs worming, all before breakfast on a Tuesday.

It's getting the kids back to school in a pandemic before visiting your parents in a hazmat suit, and making everything seem fun and normal. Emotional labour, as we currently understand it, is the unseen stuff - the organising, overseeing, arranging, remembering, reminding, co-ordinating, multi-tasking. It's the juggling. And juggling is what women do, as well as our paid and unpaid work. In general, according to a 2018 UN study, women do 2.6 times more unpaid work than men. During lockdown, this pattern continued, with women completing just one hour's uninterrupted paid work for their male partners' every three uninterrupted hours. UK researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies at University College London interviewed 3,500 families and found that with male and female parents who had the same paid work arrangements ­- either at work or furloughed - the mother did more childcare and more housework. Lucy Kraftman, a research economist at the IFS, reported that the only households where childcare and housework were shared equally were those in which the father had stopped paid work, but the mother had continued.