General News

Collaborative project highlights women’s differing experiences of lockdown

Graham Robson March 23, 2023

An Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) initiative is shining a light on the experiences of women during the pandemic as the third anniversary of the country’s initial lockdown approaches.

A [Socially Isolated] Room of One’s Own: Women Writing Lockdown is a multi-disciplinary project which aims to capture the thoughts and feelings of women who endured the UK’s first phase of lockdown, when people’s lives were transformed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The project includes a range of a range of auto/biographical writings from women about a time when their home became a workspace, nursery, and everything in between.

In addition to written prose, women have also been invited to submit images from the period which captures how houses were radically transformed. The top 10 entries will be displayed in the Lockdown House, a digital collection of findings, images, diary entries, and social-media posts to give a voice to women writing lockdown.

This will coincide with the official launch event of the project as a whole, which takes place at the House of Commons, London, on Wednesday, June 28.

The project is led collaboratively by University of Lincoln, University of Leicester, and Robert Gordon University (RGU). RGU’s Professor Sarah Pedersen of the School of Creative and Cultural Business is co-investigator.

She said: “A century ago, Virginia Woolf published A Room of One’s Own, in which she argued that women need a room and money of their own in order to write and to counter women’s social silence. Woolf’s essay provided for the first time a means of evaluating and rendering visible how women’s writing ‘disappears’.

“The aim of our project is to prevent the re-emergence of this knowledge gap around the pandemic by capturing a variety of sources of life writing by women, to document this unique period in recent history.”

Sarah Pederson

When the outbreak was confirmed as a pandemic in 2020 and lockdown was introduced by the UK Government, statistics showed that women were disproportionately affected by the competing demands of work and home schooling, resulting in a reduced ability for them to be creative and free, especially compared to their male counterparts.

Indeed, research found that submissions to academic periodicals markedly reduced in proportion to their male colleagues. What’s more, domestic violence rates doubled during the first three weeks of lockdown.

The project explores the differing effects the lockdown directive had, measured through the stories women told about those first 12 weeks.