Hi Chuck and Breckie,
In addition to your very thorough observations Breckie, I think it is important to also point out the gender differences in stress, stress management, and the resulting effect on mental health. Women are more likely to report stress and to feel they are not doing enough to manage stress and that can have a negative impact on mental health and burnout. I think the articles you referenced Chuck point to these tendencies. I think this may be affecting productivity for some women who are used to juggling many demands but still finding time somehow to do it all (e.g., squeezing in some writing time once the kids are in bed).
Now, however, I think the physical and emotional drain is just too much. Anecdotally, I have recently appreciated the need for a "reset" now and then-to allow myself times when there are no expectations, to just let things go for a day and focus on self-care (and my children of course). I feel much more refreshed and productive the next day. However, when I recently suggested this to a female colleague who was completely overwhelmed with homeschooling two children, a husband working full-time outside of the home, and many academic deadlines, her response was that there was just no way she could take that kind of time for herself right now.
And so I think for many women, it is maybe more difficult than men to take that time for self-care, to allow themselves space to cope and grieve, which is counterproductive in terms of their research productivity if they're completely drained when they finally sit down to write. Breckie, as you point out, women often feel the need to be the orchestrator of the household and while men are happy to step in, women often carry that burden (often by choice) of being the person to organize it all.
These are just my observations (except the research on gender and stress) and so I hope I am not making gender stereotypes here. We should definitely acknowledge that these work-family dynamics may operate differently in heterosexual and homosexual couples or in singles, who face a somewhat different challenge-is it more difficult for a woman to be alone during a pandemic than a man?
Thanks for sharing these articles. I think the other posters have brought up some important points regarding possible reasons for these discrepancies and the need for additional research. Of course, the academics who are struggling the most may also have the most trouble finding time to participate.It seems that there are many people who recognize that there's a problem. For instance, I've heard faculty members from several universities mention that their administrators have explicitly acknowledged that this can be a challenging time for those with caregiving responsibilities of any sort and/or those with health issues. But knowing that there's a problem is different from taking action to support those who are struggling. The most that I've heard is that some universities have encouraged faculty members who are struggling to take an additional year before they come up for promotion to associate or full professor. At some level, I appreciate the gesture, but it also makes me wary that delaying a year also means waiting a year for a raise, and given that raises are built off of one's prior salary, there are long-term effects for that kind of delay.At the individual level, I know that there are many researchers like Ruth are supporting those who are struggling by taking on additional responsibilities. That's wonderful and appreciated. Like Ruth, I wonder how gender balanced those choices are (and how prevalent).At the level of SRCD and other publishing industries, I'm not sure, and I'm curious what ideas others have. I've personally wondered if review requests could include a recognition that this is a challenging time along with a personal appeal for those who have fewer challenges to consider helping more.
We compared Jan/Feb 2020 with Mar/April 2020. I agree Mar/April 2019 would be a better basis. Thanks for the pointer to Thalia's tweet. Child Development is actually in the same boat as we don't collect gender information for authors (I just had to guess at first names). We will see how things develop over the summer.
Chuck Kalish, Ph.D. Director for Science
Society for Research in Child Development
Address: 1825 K Street NW Suite 325, Washington DC 20006
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