Stereotyping and Gender Gap during COVID-19: Backlash or Gender Convergence? A Systematic Literature Review




What have been the short- and medium-term net effects of the pandemic on working mothers, both in the early stages and over the course of the pandemic? The goal of this paper, positioned within the research field of stereotyping and gender discrimination, is to provide an updated view of academic studies investigating the dichotomy “backlash vs gender convergence” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shock. The paper has been structured as a systematic literature review based on the PRISMA Statement approach. We found a complex but, to a certain extent, predictable picture, with COVID-19 unable to produce strong and consistent macrodynamic changes on gender gap. Ultimately, therefore, the existing research seems to conclude that there is no support for either the backlash or the gender convergence notions; rather, there seems to be an equilibrium characterised by stability in gender roles, especially medium-to-long term. Other major findings include i) There seems to have been a general increase in equal childcare responsibilities even though, on average, mothers still carry the heavier load; ii) Mothers in dual-career couples were more exposed to work-hour reductions or losing their job completely; iii) Temporary gender convergence shifts were largely motivated by female working arrangements and/or necessity; iv) A new gap in psychological distress emerged for working mothers compared to both men and childless women.