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A masculine office increases the burden on female office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Seorang pegawai perempuan mengenakan masker saat bekerja di Dinas Informasi Komunikasi dan Statistik Riau di Kota Pekanbaru. A female office worker wearing a mask while working at the Riau Bureau of Information and Communication Statistics in Pekanbaru. Credit: Riani Rachmawati

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of life, including the lives of female workers.


Several reports and studies emphasize that pandemics are putting more pressure on female workers around the world to balance work and family life.

An unpublished study by myself (Kanti Peltiwi) shows that Indonesian female workers face similar challenges. Interviews with 96 female office workers aged 20 to 50, conducted in June, July, and August last year, revealed that the mental burden on women working during a pandemic is increasing.

The situation was exacerbated for women working in a masculine office culture where the male perspective was promoted and women’s needs were ignored or ignored. These offices represent what we call a masculine organization.

Increasing mental burden

Almost half of Indonesia’s population is female, but the female labor force participation rate is still low, at 53% in 2019. This means that only half of all women of working age are actually working. Nearly 40% of female workers work in the formal sector, including office workers.

Most of the female office workers who participated in the research project said that during the pandemic, their mental burden increased due to the pressure of doing office work while helping children study from home. In addition, they have to deal with household chores.

Some women reported that they were up late to meet the demands of their bosses, who have been working longer and longer since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Working from home means working anytime, anywhere, with almost no breaks. This is exacerbated by some employer assumptions that workers can be unproductive and lazy when working from home.

The situation for many female workers was complicated by lack of space in their home offices, limited access to the Internet, and lack of required devices. Indonesian labor policy offers mothers with children under the age of five the option of working from home, but not fathers. The burden on women is increased because they have to take care of their children while working while the husband is at work.

However, despite these burdens, the majority of respondents say they are very pleased to be able to work from home during a pandemic.

For many women, especially those who work in big cities like Jakarta, spending more time with their children is positive. Most female office workers in Jakarta have to spend a lot of time commuting.

These seemingly contradictory facts-a mixture of relatively high reporting levels of well-being and heavy burdens-emphasize the importance of understanding women’s subjective experiences.

Some women did not recognize this additional burden as a problem, as they are in line with Indonesia’s traditional gender ideology, which positions men as earners and women as household managers.

Meanwhile, other women saw the value of negotiating the division of work at home and questioning traditional gender ideology. “Women should not accept that household chores are their responsibility,” said Tina, one of the study participants.

Pressure from a masculine office

The burden faced by female workers is even greater if they have to work for a masculine organization or company.

Some such organizations did not adjust their workload and productivity expectations during the pandemic. This puts women in a very difficult situation as they have to work while coping with increasing family and family responsibilities.

Many women are under pressure to keep their screens beautiful, maintain a professional image, and multitask throughout the day during video Hangouts.

Women are dissatisfied with increased oversight of their ability to perform their jobs to the extent that they violate their privacy while working from home. Both female and male workers had to fill out online attendance sheets and activate their webcams to view real-time locations. Minor technical obstacles can reduce your income.

Previous studies have shown how their oppressive practices towards masculine organizations and female workers cannot be separated from the colonial heritage.

Colonialism helped spread the idea of ​​patriarchy in favor of men over women. Since then, colonialism has been intertwined with capitalism, contributing to labor practices that alienate women.

Colonialism also created classes among working women themselves. As a result, some women enjoyed relatively good income and working conditions, while women classified as low-skilled workers, such as factory workers, tended to follow the opposite fate.

Need for regulation

On paper, Indonesia has a strict labor policy and has ratified the treaties of 19 International Labor Organizations (ILOs).

The protection of female workers is regulated under the Labor Force Act of 2003, which protects women’s pregnancy, access to maternity leave, leave for miscarriage and breastfeeding rights.

During the pandemic, unfortunately, the Indonesian government has not issued regulations to address changing working conditions in both the private and government sectors, not to mention regulations that protect female workers.

Regulations issued so far relate only to workers’ salaries and social security during a pandemic.

On the other hand, policies related to worker health and working conditions during COVID-19 are not strictly regulated. The Indonesian Ministry of Human Resources has only issued a letter of recommendation, but its implementation is limited and strongly dependent on the company or employer.

As a result, the rights of many workers, especially those of female workers, are not being fulfilled.

Trade unions have a role to play here because they exist to protect the rights of workers in times of crisis.

However, the current trade union structure is still dominated by men. Therefore, it is recommended that female workers become more active in trade unions and communicate their concerns and aspirations. If the organization in which women work does not have a union, you need to establish one.

At the policymaker’s level, the government must create rules that can change male labor practices to make them more sensitive to the various problems faced by female workers.

This can be done by encouraging more research to focus more on gender issues in the workplace. Comprehensive research allows governments to develop evidence-based policies to protect female workers.


The UN says the transition to homework by a pandemic carries risks.


Provided by conversation

This article has been republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Please read the original article.conversation

Quote: Survey: Men’s offices are COVID-19 Pandemic (January 20, 2021) acquired from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-masculine-offices-burden-female on January 20, 2021. Increase the burden on female salaried workers during the day-office.html

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A masculine office increases the burden on female office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

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