NEW: Gender Equity Considerations for Tenure and Promotion during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is shaping gendered inequalities in a variety of realms, including academia. GenEQ Postdoc, Merin Oleschuk, has recently written a commentary for the Canadian Review of Sociology that explores the effect of the pandemic on gendered differences in academic productivity and success. A conversation with Oleschuk about the commentary was also featured in the Journal's podcast, CRStal Radio.

The commentary reviews emerging research into gendered differences in academic work during the pandemic period. It finds that research from journal submissions, preprint servers, and research initiation reports points to clear gendered differences — differences that are expected to become more pronounced over time and which will impact academic women’s career advancement in years to come. 

These differences are not difficult to imagine as stories in news and social media abound of female scholars struggling to balance work and care demands while the productivity of their male colleagues rises.

The commentary emphasizes that gender inequalities shaping academic careers during the pandemic are not new, but reflect longstanding systemic barriers impeding the success of academic women. Oleschuk argues that barriers around family and household responsibilities are especially exacerbated during COVID-19. In particular, the rising care demands created by the pandemic — those brought on by remote working, a lack of childcare, and the virus’ particular risk to aging populations — are disproportionately incurred by women and impede their ability to work. 

The commentary follows by suggesting points of action for tenure and promotion committees and university administrators to consider in addressing these disparities. These recommendations include:

  1. Implementing one-year opt-out tenure clock extensions
  2. Allowing nonessential scholarship to be paused and considering “hold harmless” notifications on tenure and promotion applications
  3. Proving greater research and teaching support for faculty with care demands, and greater flexibility to use that support
  4. Limiting meetings
  5. Waiving non-essential service for faculty with care demands
  6. Waiving teaching evaluations for COVID-19 semesters
  7. Identifying and advancing support systems within departments and universities for those with care demands
  8. Using language that recognizes the impact of the pandemic on academic parents, and mothers in particular.
  9. Clarifying expectations for faculty during this time
  10. Shifting institutional norms around gender, work and carework