Academic women and their children: Parenting during COVID-19 and the impact on scholarly productivity

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Objective We explored the experiences of academic mothers traversing the simultaneous demands of parenting and their professional roles throughout the pandemic to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on engagement in scholarship. Background In response to reports of reduced scholarship by women across academic disciplines, the goal of this study was to understand the lived experiences of women scholars who identify as mothers. Method Academic women, including faculty and students, completed an online survey with demographic items and open-ended questions. From the collected data, responses from participants who identified as mothers (n = 51) were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Analysis of the data revealed that participants' roles as parents and scholarly women were inextricably intertwined, each serving as foundational components of their identities, a reality highlighted by the exacerbating stressors associated with COVID-19. Altered childcare demands, conflicting roles, and relational changes emerged as consequences of the ongoing pandemic, which compromised participants' ability to effectively attend to different aspects of their identity and sometimes resulted in the development of negative emotions. Conclusion Participants identified additional responsibilities due to the ongoing pandemic. Feeling pulled between their often-conflicting personal and professional identities, academic mothers cited a lack of supportive professional structures, which became more evident during COVID-19, as a barrier to their pursuit of scholarship. Implications This study aligned with previous scholarly documentation of historical gendered bias common within academia. The potential long-term professional impact of these conflated circumstances on academic mothers during the pandemic is discussed, and implications and recommendations for addressing the same via future research are provided.



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