Saturday, 30 May 2020

Mothers doing extra 31 hours more housework each week than before coronavirus chaos, study finds

Women doing more household chores than fathers by average of 12 hours

Mothers in the UK are having to do an additional 31 hours more housework each week than they did before the coronavirus crisis, a study has found.

The report, carried out by Boston Consulting Group, warned this extra work is equivalent to having a second job and is causing a tremendous amount of stress.

Researchers found women are doing an average of 12 hours more household chores than fathers are.

Parents’ lives have been massively disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown due to nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and sixth forms being forced to close across the UK in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The research into working parents found the additional household duties being undertaken by parents range from chores around the home, to childcare and homeschooling.

Some 60 per cent of mothers said their capacity to do their jobs has lessened during the coronavirus emergency due to additional domestic duties, while 49 per cent of fathers said the same.

Researchers found 70 per cent of parents do not have any type of external support in providing care and education for their children.

The study, which polled 3,055 working parents in the UK, America, France, Germany, and Italy, found similar gendered patterns in other countries too.

Researchers found women with children across these countries now spend an average of 65 hours a week on unpaid labour around the house — with this figure having almost doubled since the Covid-19 crisis. This is almost a third more than fathers, who are doing an average of 50 hours a week.

It comes after a study by the London School of Economics recently found coronavirus is exacerbating the gender gap as women bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities and homeschooling during lockdown — whether they’re working or not.

The report found women are more likely to deal with homeschooling, childcare and chores around the house even if they are juggling this with working at the same time.

But this trend is being bucked in some households, with childcare being distributed more equally in 20 per cent of homes that include a woman, man and dependant children, due to fathers being furloughed, laid off or working from home.

Professor Barbara Petrongolo, an economist involved in the report, said: “There are a substantial minority of families where fathers now shoulder the bulk of childcare. Together with the way we are adapting our working lives to cope during the lockdown, this gives me hope that in the long term, a more equal society will emerge.”

The report found women are more likely than men to lose their jobs in the forthcoming recession because a larger number work in sectors — such as hospitality, leisure, tourism and the arts — that are forecast to be hardest hit.

(Source: Independent)

Coronavirus: 'Mums do most childcare and chores in lockdown'

Mums appear to be doing most of the housework and childcare during lockdown, according to a new study.

Research suggest that in homes where there is a working mother and father, women are doing more chores and spending more time with children.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL) interviewed 3,500 families.

They found that mums were only able to do one hour of uninterrupted work, for every three hours done by dads.
Getty Images

"Mothers are doing, on average, more childcare and more housework than fathers who have the same work arrangements," said Lucy Kraftman, a research economist at the IFS.

She said the finding applied to families where a mother and father were both working, as well as to families where both parents were furloughed or out of work.

"The only set of households where we see mothers and fathers sharing childcare and housework equally are those in which both parents were previously working, but the father has now stopped working for pay, while the mother is still in paid work," she said.

"However, mothers in these households are doing paid work during an average of five hours a day, in addition to doing the same amount of domestic work as their partner."

Paula Sheridan, a coach whose firm Unwrapping Potential works with professional women, says her clients "almost universally" report that they are the ones planning meals, creating timetables and downloading learning resources for children - along with dozens of other tasks.

"I'm the main wage earner and yet I also seem to be the one who stops work to make lunch and dinner, because he wouldn't think of doing it," one client told her.

Another told her: "[My partner] is furloughed and yet my work telephone calls are interrupted by the children asking questions, while daddy is just watching Netflix."

Ms Sheridan believes the different approach to household tasks and childcare responsibilities begins during maternity leave.

Only 2% of new mums and dads split their entitlement to parental leave. This generally leaves woman in charge of establishing a routine and learning how to be a parent - usually by trial and error, she says.

'Not men versus women'
Being a parent involves making sure there's food in the house, cooking, arranging childcare where necessary. And as children grow older, keeping track of after-school activities and making sure the kids make it to birthday parties, hopefully with the right gift.

"It isn't a man versus women thing at all," Ms Sheridan says. "The partner has no idea that all of this stuff even happens, because he has never needed to."

Mums still tend to be the ones organising how time is spent at home under lockdown, she adds.

As a result, mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers, UCL and the IFS found.
Paula Sheridan, a business and performance coach, says almost all of her clients have complained that they are the ones doing most of the childcare in the family. Paula Sheridan

Bigger wage gap?
Before lockdown, mothers completed on average around 60% of the uninterrupted work hours that fathers did.

"A risk is that the lockdown leads to a further increase in the gender wage gap," said Alison Andrew from the IFS.

But her colleague, Sonya Krutikova, points to some cause for hope that the lockdown may lead to a more equal sharing of household tasks between parents.

"Fathers, on average, are doing nearly double the hours of childcare they were doing prior to the crisis," she said.

"This may bring about changes in the attitudes of fathers, mothers, children and employers about the role of fathers in meeting family needs for childcare and domestic work during the working week."

(Source: BBC)

Royal family shares recipe for Victoria sponge cake from Buckingham Palace pastry chefs

Cake was named after Queen Victoria ‘who regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea’, royal family states

Throughout lockdown, many people have been turning to baking to keep their minds occupied.

From sourdough bread to scones, members of the public have been throwing on their aprons and whipping out the wooden spoons as they refine their culinary skills at home.

Jumping on the baking bandwagon, Buckingham Palace has shared the recipe to one of the most quintessentially British bakes: the Victoria sponge cake.

On the royal family‘s social media channels, the Palace explained that the recipe has been shared to mark the royal garden parties, which were due to take place this May before being cancelled.

“The Victoria sponge was named after Queen Victoria, who regularly ate a slice of sponge cake with her tea, each afternoon!” the royal family stated.

The instructions shared by the royal family denote the official Victoria sponge recipe used by Buckingham Palace’s pastry chefs.

In addition to the recipe, the royal family has also shared a video demonstrating the correct techniques needed to produce the fluffy, jammy sponge.

Here is how to make a royally approved Victoria Sponge cake, according to Buckingham Palace’s pastry chefs:

For the sponge:
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g sieved self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
  • Jam (strawberry or raspberry)

For the buttercream:
  • 150g softened unsalted butter
  • 220g sieved icing sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod or vanilla essence
For the sponge:
  • First, pre-heat the oven to 180C (375F, gas mark 4).
  • Grease and line two eight-inch cake tins. If you only have one cake tin, you can bake the sponge and slice it in half.
  • Cream the caster sugar, vanilla essence and softened unsalted butter until light and fluffy. You can do this either by hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric whisk.
  • Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually add the beaten eggs to the sugar and butter mixture. Do so a little bit at a time, in order to avoid any curdling.
  • Sieve the flour and then gently fold into the mixture
  • Pour equal amounts of the cake mix into the two cake tins and smooth them over.
  • Place the cake tins on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven, baking for around 20 minutes, until the cake looks golden brown.
  • After 20 minutes, check the cake is well-baked by inserting a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 
  • Remove the sponges from their tins and leave them to cool.
For the buttercream:
  • Cream the softened butter for the buttercream with the sieved icing sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod (or vanilla essence) .
To assemble the cake:
  • Ensure that both sponges are completely cold before spreading a layer of jam onto the surface of one sponge.
  • Next, spread a thick layer of buttercream on top of the jam. If you prefer, you can spread the buttercream first and then do the layer of jam second.
  • Once the layers have been spread on one sponge, place the second sponge on top and gently press down.
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar and, as per the Buckingham Palace pastry chef’s suggestion, serve with a pot of fresh English tea.
This recipe was shared on the royal family’s website here.

(Source: Independent)

Crown prince's family donates 300 handmade medical gowns

Crown Prince Akishino's family and government staff have made 300 medical gowns by hand for medical institutions, the front line of the battle against the new coronavirus.

The gowns were donated to the Saiseikai Imperial Gift Foundation, headed by the Crown Prince, the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, with handwritten messages to cheer on and express gratitude to medical staff, according to the foundation.
Crown Prince Akishino's family chat in the garden of their temporary residence in Akasaka Estate on Nov. 15. | IMPERIAL HOUSEHOLD AGENCY / VIA KYODO

Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Kiko became interested in making such gowns after hearing about protective gear shortages at medical institutions in an online meeting with a senior foundation official and others on May 11 that was also attended by their daughters, Princess Mako and Princess Kako.

The family and Imperial Household Agency staff made the medical gowns out of plastic bags.

On May 15, 100 of the gowns were delivered to Tokyo Saiseikai Central Hospital, and the foundation's head office received the remaining 200 on Friday.

"We feel encouraged," a foundation official said.

In a message posted on the foundation's website, the Crown Prince expressed his gratitude to the foundation staff and medical workers across the country.

(Source: JT)

Trump signs controversial executive order that could allow federal officials to target Twitter, Facebook and Google

'The First Amendment is what allows companies to say whatever they want in response,' Democratic congressman says

Donald Trump has signed a controversial executive order that could allow federal officials to go after technology giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google over how those firms monitor and treat content that appears on their websites.

The president, who has uttered thousands of false or misleading statements since taking office, complained as he signed the missive that social media firms have "unchecked power," adding: "Imagine if your phone company edited or silenced your conversations."

The president signed the order two days after Twitter, for the first time, placed a link on some of Mr Trump's tweets that guided users to news articles that fact-checked his statements. Those tweets were about his claims that voting by mail automatically breeds fraud, but he also this week pushed a baseless conspiracy theory that former GOP Congressman-turned-MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered a staffer in the early 2000s.

Mr Trump reacted angrily, saying all week that the company was trying to censor him the way he and others on the right say Twitter and its tech cousins have done to scores of conservatives online.

He said on Thursday the company put up the fact check on his post because it has a "viewpoint," calling Twitter's move "political activism."

The true scope and impact of the order are not yet known. And the tech industry is reportedly huddling about potential legal action, calling the executive directive illegal. And the president told reporters he expects a court battle, saying: "'I guess it's going to be challenged in court, but what isn't?'

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the current law erects "shields" behind which "we cannot see" how social media firms make content decisions. The idea behind the order, she said, is to "remove" some and "shed some light" behind those decisions.

The order would set the stage for US federal entities to possibly roll back legal safeguards for tech companies known as Section 230, which prevents tech firms from being held legally responsible for the content they allow on their sites. It also could allow the Trump administration to, via a potential new rule the Federal Communications Commission might craft, alter how agencies view the scope of Section 230.

Tech sector advocates and officials warn the order might have a chilling effect on free speech and set off ripple waves of yet-unknown business ramifications for companies that rely on the Internet to stay afloat.

"This is simply setting the wheels of law enforcement and regulation in motion against a private company for questioning the president," said Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, told The Washington Post.

Congressional Democrats, predictably, are panning the president's move.

"Whatever the credible criticisms of current law, Trump's demagogic meat-ax attack is exactly wrong," tweeted Senate Judiciary Committee member Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. "He intimidates free speech & imperils responsible reform. It's condemnable."

Ted Lieu of California, a House Judiciary member, tweeted that the order "cannot change the law or the Constitution. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is what allows Trump to post his deranged thoughts on social media."

"The First Amendment is what allows companies to say whatever they want in response," Mr Lieu wrote.

And Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said Mr Trump and Attorney General William Barr "are obligated to carry out the laws that Congress has passed and the courts have affirmed. Any order to the contrary is illegitimate and must be resisted by any federal official who is true to their oath."

But, as Ms Enany made clear, administrations control how they interpret laws that legislators write. The social media missive would alter how the executive branch treats Section 230.

Mr Trump told reporters he and Mr Barr will push Congress to pass legislation also addressing Section 230. 'We're fed up with it," he said of the alleged censorship of conservatives.

Still, experts are questioning the legality of the order.

"If I'm reading this correctly, the EO claims tech platforms are doing something they're not, in violation of an incorrect interpretation of law, and tasks agencies it can't task to look into the things that aren't being done that wouldn't be wrong," according to Tiffany Li, a Boston University School of Law professor.

Despite his feud with Twitter, Mr Trump made clear he has no plans to simply delete the account from which he regularly fires off over 100 original posts or retweets each day.

"If we had a fair press in this country," he told a reporter, "I'd do it in a heartbeat."

(Source: Independent)