childcare centre coronavirus
(Image: AAP/Dean Lewis)

Women have never been more essential to Australia. They keep our hospitals running and our children home-schooled. So how is it possible that their value in our twisted modern labour market has left them even further behind during the pandemic? 

We already know women have borne the brunt of job losses as a result of COVID-19. Now the ones who have kept their jobs are facing another insult: despite years of progress in the fight for equality at work, the gender pay gap is getting worse. 

Double workload

Women have earned on average $261.50 a week less than men, a widening of the gender pay gap by almost 1% over the past six months. And that is despite women being over-represented in the front line against the virus, as nurses, teachers, aged-care and childcare workers. They are also twice as likely as men to do more than 20 hours a week of unpaid housework.