Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Pandemic’s Sexist Consequences: Academe’s Stark Gender Disparities Are Exacerbated By Covid-19

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Pandemic’s Sexist Consequences: Academe’s Stark Gender Disparities Are Exacerbated By Covid-19, by Rose Casey (West Virginia):

Covid-19 has precipitated a caregiving crisis with profoundly gendered effects. The well-documented decrease in women’s journal submissions is an early example of the pandemic’s impact. In coming years, we’ll probably see additional consequences, including widening gender divisions in attaining tenure and an increase in the gender pay gap. These effects will be particularly stark for racially minoritized women.

Covid’s collapsing of work into home life has made clear that what Tithi Bhattarcharya calls “life-giving reproductive labor” frequently falls on female shoulders. With schools closed, child-care provisions reduced, and care for other family members increased, pandemic time has heightened academe’s existing gendered inequalities.

Research across many disciplines — economics, public health, sociology, biology, medicine, gender studies, and more — has documented Covid-19’s detrimental impact on women. Multiple papers have shown that women’s unpaid care work, including child care, home-school supervision, emotional support of household members, and all manner of domestic tasks, has increased more than men’s during the pandemic. ...

[W]hat should academics and administrators do in the face of worsening inequality? First, we need to organize if we’re going to change the paired cultures of overwork and gendered inequity. Second, we must recognize that addressing discrepant caregiving loads during the pandemic, and the devaluing of reproductive labor in general, is beneficial for all female academics, childfree and parents alike. And finally, the published research is very clear: Institutional policies must not be gender neutral if they’re to be gender equitable.

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