• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Women are disproportionately burdened with caring responsibilities, which limit income and opportunities for both employed and self-employed professionals.

Photo of mother

The working culture in theatres disadvantages people with caring responsibilities, who are more likely to be women than men, an interim report has found.

It also found that over two-thirds of people agreed men and women are treated differently by the organisation they work for after becoming a parent.

“Addressing the barriers to work and challenges in the workplace experienced by carers is one practical way of addressing the gender imbalance in theatre,” said Tom Cornford, Lead Researcher on the project.


The information emerges out of interviews, focus groups and an online survey of 966 respondents, conducted by campaign group Parents in Performing Arts in late 2016.

People with caring responsibilities were found to have often expressed anxiety around leaving work at unusual times and at not being able to commit to working extra hours.

This affects the significant minority found to have a ‘hidden caring’ responsibility – those who look after people other than dependent children. It also disproportionately affects women: four times as many women as men reported doing

70% of the childcare, and no men reported doing 100% of the childcare.


The interim report also finds employment and self-employment are not mutually exclusive categories. While self-employed people are found to be “significantly disadvantaged” by current provisions for childcare support, a majority of both employed and self-employed people are reported to have lost income and job opportunities due to caring responsibilities.

Similarly, it finds 79% of self-employed and employed workers are frequently confronted with last minute commitments at work, representing a “significant challenge” to various caring responsibilities.

“These findings further support the theme emerging that the differences between challenges faced by employed and self-employed people working in theatre are not as big as we might have expected,” added Cornford.

Next steps

In response, the interim report identifies strategies to support people with caring responsibilities as research priorities for the coming months.

These include more flexible working patterns, improving current childcare provisions, and discussing caring responsibilities more openly with employees.

In particular, it is to address the distinct lack of evidence of job sharing or restructuring strategies that could help to sustain the career development of part-time workers.

A final report is to be published in late summer 2017.