A tale of two realities: gendered workspace at home during the pandemic in Taipei



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Remote work has been viewed as facilitating work-family balance and promoting gender equality. While work-family scholars provide evidence to show that women still carry more responsibility at home compared to their husbands, this study adds to the debate from the spatial aspect of remote work by asking whether there is a gendered pattern of space allocation and use when couples work from home together. This study examines how heterosexual couples in Taiwan use space when both are working from home. I interviewed 29 people in 19 households how they arranged working space at home, and how these spatial arrangements influenced their working experiences and career development. I found that space is gendered: men tend to work in a preferable space at home compared to their partners. However, a preferable space is not always an independent physical space, such as a room. Interviews reveal that women are more interrupted regardless of the physical setting of the space. Their experiences reveal that women’s family roles, such as mother, daughter, and wife, are prioritized at home, resulting in constant interruptions. On the contrary, men’s roles as a worker are protected when they worked from home. Gender transcends and transforms the physical space to reproduce gender inequality at work for people who work from home, suggesting the need to reconsider treating remote work as a pro-work-family policy.



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