COVID-19 has upended all aspects of traditional university life. Faculty are experiencing additional demands necessitated by the move to online platforms for all teaching and administrative work, as well as strains placed on research agendas due to laboratories closing, limited fieldwork, and curtailed in-person contact. Off-campus life has also been upended. Faculty who are parents of school-age children are struggling to balance virtual teaching while also caring for their families. Those with elderly parents face extremely difficult decisions about social distancing and best care practices. Single faculty are isolated at home, separated from their friends and families.
Given extensive evidence indicating that women disproportionately shoulder more care-giving at home, what are the implications now that female faculty find themselves balancing workloads that have grown heavier with the challenges associated with the abrupt move to remote instruction and working from home?
Scholars of women in the workplace note that many of the activities that are integral to the reputation and everyday functioning of an organization are often performed by women and, accordingly, are taken for granted as a “natural” expression of women’s preferences for this sort of work. Female faculty disproportionately perform “hidden work” within universities, and this essential work is not compensated within current faculty reward structures around promotion. How can we think strategically and systematically about the implications of the profound shifts in faculty work caused by COVID-19 for the long term, and how will it differentially impact diverse faculty in terms of workload, tenure and promotion, salaries, and teaching evaluations?