20th May 2020 

New analysis published today by Ipsos MORI and The Fawcett Society, the gender equality campaigning charity, shows that women are bearing the emotional brunt of the coronavirus crisis. Six out of ten women (61%) are finding it harder to stay positive day-to-day, compared with 47% of men and women are much more worried about our nation as a result of Coronavirus. Half of women (49%) say they are very concerned about the risk the virus poses to the country, compared with a third (36%) of men.  The analysis was conducted on Ipsos MORI surveys of public opinion since the beginning of the outbreak.

 But women are more likely than men to have done something to help others:

  • 44% of women say they have contacted someone lonely or vulnerable, compared with 33% of men;
  • 78% have checked in on friends and family to ensure they are ok compared with 63% of men;
  • 21% have delivered supplies to someone self-isolating, compared with 16% of men.

While women and men broadly agree on what would make them feel more optimistic, women are more likely to say that visiting a selection of friends and family would help (77% of women and 68% of men).

The immediate employment impact of the crisis has also been felt more strongly by women with 33% of women in employment saying their workplaces have been closed compared with 25% of men. When asked in March whether the economic conditions of the country will improve or get worse, women were much more likely to think conditions would get worse than men (an increase of 35 points compared with 18 points for men between February and March).

As the Government eases the lockdown:

  • Women are slightly less likely to say Government should prioritise the health of the economy over people’s health (9% vs 14% for men, although a majority of both genders put public health first).
  • And women are more likely to be uncomfortable with lifting the lockdown, whether that is sending children to school or using public transport.

The analysis shows that women were slightly less likely to think that the Government’s response to the pandemic has been timely; just 22% of women said Government acted at the right time to tackle the pandemic, compared with 29% of men.

The new analysis suggests that women have been more lukewarm towards Government than men from the beginning. They did not ‘rally around the flag’ to the same extent - when the crisis hit in March, Government satisfaction among women rose by just 6 points compared with 11 points among men.  

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said:

“Women are bearing the brunt of the emotional and financial fall out. Government needs to take a gendered approach as we lift the lockdown and begin to turn our attention to how we emerge from this crisis.  One thing is certain, an economy which leaves women and girls behind will fail to recover at all.”

While women and men are working at home in similar proportions, research by Ipsos MORI prior to the outbreak found that 15% of people said working from home regularly is likely to damage the career of a woman, compared with just 3% for a man.

Women are more likely to have adhered closely to social distancing, with 70% saying they are avoiding leaving the house, compared with 57% of men. Women also held higher standards for what is acceptable to do during lockdown, with 78% saying it is unacceptable for a cleaner to come into their home compared with 67% of men.

Kully Kaur-Ballagan, Research Director at Ipsos MORI added:

“The medical evidence suggests that men are more at risk from the coronavirus and one in four men and women recognise this.  However, on a range of other perception measures, it is women who are feeling more of the pressure.  In particular, they have found keeping positive in lockdown more difficult than men.  They are also more concerned about coming out of lockdown, such as sending children to school, shopping and travelling on public transport- which will have implications for how we get back to normal. Of course, not all women are the same and there are differences between young and old women so we are continuing to monitor the impact of the pandemic as the crisis develops.”

Key findings

Satisfaction with Government

  • Satisfaction with the Government in February 2020 was 41% for men, rising 11 points to +52% in March 2020. Among women it was 39% in February, rising only 6 points to 45% in March 2020 as the crisis hit.
  • 22% of women said measures were taken at the right time, compared with 27% of men.

Women are more uncomfortable with aspects of lifting lockdown. Asked how they would feel about the following, more women said they would be uncomfortable than men:

  • Attending large public gatherings (71% for women v 63% for men)
  • Going to bars/restaurants (66% v 56%)
  • Using public transport (65% v 57%)
  • Sending your children to school (51% v 44%)
  • Shopping generally (47% v 39%)
  • Shopping in supermarkets (45% v 34%)

Findings are drawn from a number of nationally representative polls by Ipsos MORI. Full details and available at: www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/public-opinion-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic

Download the full press release here
Download the data slides here
Read more about Fawcett's campaigning to #MakeWomenVisible during the outbreak here