Type of Work

Research Paper

Publication Date

Summer 10-3-2020


In mid-March of 2020, schools across New York state faced closures due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with closures of many workplaces and a general move towards remote work, this unprecedented situation forced families to adapt to the new normal: school, home, and work were now all happening in the same space, at the same time. Parents could no longer rely on schools or outside childcare options to keep their children occupied. While each school district developed its own strategies of teaching children remotely, a common experience was an increased need for parental involvement in children’s everyday schooling, which was particularly true for families with younger children. This paper discusses the ways in which families have navigated at-home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I focus on the ways in which families divide at-home learning responsibilities and how they explain those divisions. In particular, I focus on the experiences of working mothers and the challenges they face when trying to balance their employment with at-home learning responsibilities. I argue that explaining the gendered division of parenting responsibilities primarily through employment and convenience does not account for the experiences of most working mothers in the sample. Rather, essentialist gender ideas around caregiving and parenting remain salient, suggesting that gender remains the primary means of stratification in the family. Further, engaging with literature on intensive mothering and emotion work, I argue that women are disproportionately affected by the challenges of at-home learning and are held to higher parenting standards than men, which further exposes gendered inequalities in the family.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Group Grant

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Mahala Stewart