Pandemic measures disproportionately harm women’s careers

Shutdowns and social-far-reaching measures aimed at combating the epidemic have damaged the careers and wellbeing of America’s female academic researchers, a report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) finds.

The survey attracted more than 700 respondents, including students, postdoc and faculty members, and the results were released this month. It found that the epidemic negatively affected the work-life balance, productivity and mental health of women scientists.

During the lockdown last year, the report noted, women suffered the brunt of family responsibilities, such as caring for children whose schools were closed and for older relatives who could no longer live safely in care homes Were.

Sherry Martes, a career coach and consultant from Washington DC, says, “If something happens that negatively impacts education, it has an external impact on women.” “There is a possible silver lining that the epidemic is bringing these issues into consideration.”

Shifting responsibilities

Practice to address the desegregation of women in science, engineering, and medicine, a study built on a landmark 2020 NASEM report for Promising Practice, which highlighted equality and advancing women in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) Suggested measures of.

This report found that women educational scientists could benefit from introducing measures such as granting universities and increasing the amount of time allocated to earn tenure – strategies that allow women to relinquish their careers without sacrificing family responsibilities. Allow more time for

But the findings of that report did not account for much of the increased childcare responsibilities that schools closed during the epidemic – at the time of writing, many American schools remain closed or only partially open. Nor did it account for difficulties such as researching from home or collaborating on papers remotely.

In October, the NASEM team led by Eve Higginsbotham at the Peleman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania sent a survey to women working in educational STEM about their challenges, caregiving responsibilities, and coping strategies during the past six months. .

The March report found that women were negatively affected by complications as a result of the epidemic. Of those responding, 28% reported an increase in workload, and 25% reported a decrease in productivity. Two-thirds reported a negative impact on their personal well-being, including their mental and physical health.

Unequal burden

A study by Academic Publications in Earth Sciences presented at the American Geophysical Association 2020 meeting in December suggested that the productivity of female researchers in Earth and space sciences had not diminished over the past year, and that virtual conferences led to more women Permission to participate in them was given.

But a March NASEM study found that women reported difficulty contributing to virtual conferences, such as interrupting female speakers, due to being distracted at home and poor behavior from male attendees.

And 10% of women reported having less time for work. NASEM cited publications that found a similar trend, stating that the proportion of female authors of the paper was lower than expected. In addition, the March report found that over the past year, the institutions abolished many non-tenant faculty and staff-member positions, compared to other positions to be occupied by women and people of color More likely.

NASEM reported that the effects of the epidemic vary across disciplines: laboratory-based scientists were unable to continue research, while scientists in areas such as computational biology and computer science were better at working remotely.

But across the board, female researchers made it challenging to care for and care for children at home and to deal with other family responsibilities while working. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the respondents reported an increase in childcare demands, and nearly half challenged the access and affordability of childcare.

Reshma Jagsi, a member of the NEREM committee, radiation oncologist and bioethicist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says that even those institutions that had been making great efforts to increase women’s representation were struggling due to the epidemic.

“The whole world reversed overnight, so those challenges turned us into a style of decision-making that cannot embrace the best ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” she says. She says.

Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, says the report provides evidence that parents working in homes where parents share the child’s responsibilities Identify when they are more than they can handle. Difficulties arise.

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