Quarantine reinforces gender inequality

Quarantine reinforces gender inequality

VUB releases initial findings of time study and renews call for participation

A month and a half ago, research group TOR of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel – with VUB spin-off hbits – launched a time-use study (www.everydaylife.eu) to investigate how the coronavirus crisis affects daily life. How do people deal with the disappearance of time structures, routines, social contacts and the separation between spheres of life?

Researcher Ignace Glorieux: “We already want to show the striking differences with these initial results, but it is also a call for more people to participate in our research, which is still possible. This allows us to study evolutions in behaviour, even after various lockdown exit measures have been taken.”

First results compared to 2013: quarantine more stressful for women than men

  • Daily structure: we have on average one hour more leisure time per day (6h instead of 5h) and spend more than 1 hour less on the road (9min instead of 1h17).
  • Daily structure: compared to 2013, men have on average 1 hour more leisure time per day than women; women spend on average 30min more per day on housework and childcare and 30min more per day on sleeping and personal care than they did in 2013.
  • Waking hours: we spend on average 4hr a day longer indoors than we did in 2013.
  • Time use: we are exercising a little more (10min a day), watching TV 30min more each day (2.5h) and spending half an hour longer on social media and online communication (almost 45min a day).          
  • Leisure: in our leisure time we spend over 1hr more on hobbies, computer games, reading and listening to music.       
  • Leisure: young (18- to 24-year-olds) and old (65- to 75-year-olds) are the biggest users of social media and online communication, spending over 1hr a day on them on average.           
  • Leisure: 65- to 75-year-olds watch the most TV, with an average of 3 hours a day.
  • Time pressure: this is now lower for both men and women than it was in 2013, but the decrease is much greater among men than among women.
  • Time pressure: the difference in time pressure between women and men is much greater during the corona crisis than it was in 2013.

Theun Pieter van Tienoven, sociologist at the VUB research group TOR: “The first results show that for the time being, time stress is not so bad. We are experiencing less time pressure than pre-corona. That makes sense up to a point, because we aren’t having to deal with traffic jams, children don’t have to be taken to school, sports, music lessons, etc. From that point of view, the lockdown has brought more calm. But it remains stressful to arrange work, school, domestic duties and leisure activities in the same place. It also turns out that this is more stressful for women than men. Although daily time use differs little between women and men, at first sight women seem to be doing much more than men to manage the amalgamation of the different areas of life at home. The lockdown therefore reinforces gender inequality in relative terms.”

Call for participation

VUB research group TOR and the research bureau hbits are investigating the social consequences of the coronavirus crisis. What are the consequences for your daily life? These are the first results of 661 Belgians who completed 3,500 diary days. The more people participate, the more reliable the results become. Take part in this study and tell us how your daily life has changed via www.everydaylife.eu



Ignace Glorieux (Research group TOR - Vrije Universiteit Brussel)




Contact us
Ignace Glorieux Onderzoeksgroep TOR – Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Lies Feron
Lies Feron Wetenschapscommunicatie Persrelaties
Ignace Glorieux Onderzoeksgroep TOR – Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Lies Feron
Lies Feron Wetenschapscommunicatie Persrelaties
About Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.



Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel