Article, originally published in the New York Times
The pandemic is a new setback for women in academia who already faced obstacles on the path to advancing their research and careers.
Whatever big plans Lisa Warner had for the year, the pandemic scrambled them. It forced online the biochemistry classes she taught as an assistant professor at Boise State University in Idaho, and it temporarily shut down her laboratory. Her 4-year-old son’s day care closed, and Dr. Warner felt her productivity wane. She feared for her chances of receiving tenure, the long-term job security that most early-career academics ardently pursue, by the 2024 deadline in her contract.
Around the same time, Maria Fernanda Escallón, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon and mother to a 3-year-old daughter, was working from a walk-in closet and occasionally a backyard shed to steal quiet moments away from the demands of caregiving. She was trying to write a book, one of many publications she feels she will need to secure tenure.
Late at night, she swapped horror stories of lost time and depleted research over email with other women faculty.
“I hope the administration realizes that anything they do now to alleviate this issue for caregivers will directly impact how the professoriate will look five to 10 years from now — how diverse it will be, and how many women will be in positions of power within academia,” Dr. Escallón said.