Using social media to raise awareness on resistances against gender equality

Resistances against equality in research organisations: how to counter them? Many strategies can answer to this question and we at SUPERA, in a joint initiative with the sister projects GEARING Roles, GEAcademy, CALIPER and GENDERACTION, tried to collect them by launching in June a social media campaign

#COUNTERIT is a communication initiative designed to encourage people and organisations to share their thoughts and experiences about the resistances to gender equality in research and academia. The main goal of this awareness campaign was to create a social brainstorming on the topic, focusing on methods, tips and examples to counter any form of resistance.  

Each sister project started the campaign with a different approach: GEAcademy focused on highlighting the valuable suggestions of other sister projects and research organisations; Caliper firstly shared the direct experiences of its partners about the methods to counter resistances; GENDERACTION engaged its community with questions and useful resources developed in the framework of the EU funded projects; Gearing Roles preferred to adopt a step-by-step approach introducing people to the topic gradually with definitions and quotes about resistances and their features; last, but not least, we at SUPERA started with some practical advices to deal with this problem in academia, suggesting specific initiatives and a focus on gender-sensitive communication. 

Both individual and institutional experiences have been shared during the campaign. This variety of approaches was essential to analyse the problem of resistances through different points of views and support people and organisations in this process towards gender equality. Indeed, as the various contributions showed, resistances can take many forms: they can consist of a complete denial of the problem, disinterest in the issue, inaction or even complete ideological opposition. They could be cultural or social resistances, individual, institutional, implicit and explicit: raising awareness of the topic is only the first step. 

 

        

Some of the tweets published on the SUPERA’s account

We want to say THANK YOU! to all the people, networks, organisations and projects that joined us for this campaign. If you missed the campaign, please visit the SUPERA, GEARING Roles, GEAcademy, CALIPER and GENDERACTION Twitter profiles or search the hashtag #COUNTERIT

The impact of the pandemic on gender equality in Academia: three case studies

On June 9th 2021, the online event “How COVID-19 impacted on gender equality in research and academia” provided the SUPERA core teams from the University of Coimbra, the University of Cagliari and the Complutense University of Madrid with the opportunity to present the preliminary results of three studies on the gendered impact of the pandemic on the academic and research communities

The research focused on working conditions, time usage and academic production of the academic staff at UC, UNICA and UCM during the COVID-19 health emergency. The reports containing the preliminary results of the surveys have been released between February and March on the SUPERA website: see here for more details.  

The official presentation of the research results has been introduced and commented by two components of SUPERA’s international advisory board: Jörg Muller, expert in concepts and methods for researching the impact of gender diversity on research performance (Open University of Catalonia), and Nicole Huyghe, expert in data analytics from a gender perspective, CEO and founder of Boobook

Mónica Lopes, researcher at the Center for Social Studies, opened the following presentations with the results from the UC; Barbara Barbieri, Associate Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, illustrated the evidences from UNICA; María Bustelo, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration – and SUPERA coordinator -, closed the session with the presentation from UCM.

The slides used during the event are online on Slideshare with a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license:

The recording of the event, including the final session with the Q&A by the participants, is available on the SUPERA’s YouTube channel at this link.

2021-07-22T11:12:27+02:00July 20th, 2021|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

COVID-19 impact on gender equality in academia: on 9/06 an online event to present the surveys’ results

Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle, Unsplash

On June 9, 2021 from 4.00 to 5.30 pm CET, the SUPERA core teams from the University of Coimbra, the University of Cagliari and the Complutense University of Madrid will present the results of the study on the gendered impact of COVID-19 carried out in the three respective European universities.

The presentation will be introduced by Jörg Muller, expert in concepts and methods for researching the impact of gender diversity on research performance (Open University of Catalonia), and Nicole Huyghe, an expert in data analytics from a gender perspective (Boobook) will comment on the results; a final session will be devoted to the Q&A by the participants.

The participation to the event is open to everyone but registration is required through the link available here: a Zoom link to join the meeting will be sent a few hours before the start of the event.

For any question or information, please contact us at superaprojectoffice@ucm.es.

Agenda 

  • Welcome by Lut Mergaert, Yellow Window
  • Introduction by Jörg Muller, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Presentations of Results 
    • CES-UC: Mónica Lopes, researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra 
    • UniCA: Barbara Barbieri, Associate Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Cagliari
    • UCM: María Bustelo, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM)
  • Comments on the results by Nicole Huyghe, CEO and founder of Boobook
  • Questions & Answers session by participants
  • Closing

#COUNTERIT: join the new social media campaign about Resistances

SUPERA, GEARING Roles, GE Academy, CALIPER and GENDERACTION have joined forces to launch the social media campaign #COUNTERIT

Supporting gender equality and efforts towards improving equality are often met with resistances.

They can take many forms: they can consist of a complete denial of the problem, disinterest in the issue, inaction, or even complete ideological opposition. They could be cultural resistances, social resistances, individual, institutional, implicit and explicit.

Throughout the campaign, in order to raise awareness of the topic of resistances and to show how we can counter them, we will be sharing examples of tips and methods that our partners have developed to overcome resistances, both at the individual as well as institutional level.

Share your experience on these resistances between June 21 and 25 on your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter): download the Powerpoint template here or create your graphics.

Tell us in any language about the resistances you have had to face and what did you do to counter them, or what you think we should do as a society to stop them.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #COUNTERIT and join us!

2021-06-14T15:52:14+02:00May 17th, 2021|Tags: , , , , , |

Psychological dimensions of the impact of Covid-19 emergency

By Cristina Cabras, Silvia De Simone, Barbara Barbieri and Mirian Agus, University of Cagliari

How did the pandemic scenario affect the performance of the academic staff? In order to answer to this question, in the context of the SUPERA project the University of Cagliari developed a survey with the aim to explore the impact of psychological, sociological, economics and communicative dimensions on the productivity of the academic staff during the Covid-19 crisis. This report anticipates the preliminary results concerning the psychological dimensions.

The survey was administered to 968 participants between September and October 2020 with a response rate of about 25%; the participation was completely voluntary, and the questionnaire ensured anonymity. A total of 243 participants (researchers, associate and full professors), 50% men and 50% women, ranging from 30 to 70 years old, completed the questionnaire. Ot them, almost 56% of participants have children.

We investigated the relation among perceived stress, work-family interface, workload, perceveid organizational support, work engagement, workplace social isolation, scientific productivity and satisfaction. To measure these variables, we administered standardized scales.

Multivariate analysis

We performed the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to determine if there were significant differences between gender, academic position, presence/absence of children, scientific productivity and productivity satisfaction on the variables studied. The multivariate analysis of variance has age as a covariate.

While the results show a significant effect regarding gender, academic position, presence/absence children, productivity satisfaction, no significant effect was found on scientific productivity.

The results show that women feel more negative stress. A possible interpretation is that they feel to have less control over the most important aspects of their life and also to face too many difficulties in working environments.

Moreover, women perceive greater organizational support. In other words, they feel that their contributions and their efforts are appreciated, believing that the organization cares about their well-being and their job satisfaction. In addition to that, we found a significant effect regarding the academic position in relation to the negative interface of the family at work. In particular, the results show that full and associate professors have the highest levels of negative interface from family to work. This could mean that they have more problems with family interference in carrying out work assignments. In contrast, researchers hired on temporary contracts have the lowest levels of interference from family to work. The results show the highest levels of workload for associate and full professors: they are frequently asked to work hard and fast. On the other hand, researchers hired on temporary contracts have fewer workloads: this could mean that, compared to the other roles, they perceive a greater usefulness of their job duties and perceive they have less workload in terms of quality and quantity.

The presence of children is associated with higher levels of negative interference from work to family. It’s likely that those who have children have more negative relationships between work and family. Moreover, the presence of children is associated with higher levels of negative interference from family to work: those who have children have more negative interactions between family and work.

Finally, the results show that high levels of productivity satisfaction are associated with positive interference from work to family. It could mean that those with high satisfaction have positive experiences of interference from work to family.

Regression model

In order to test the role of the different dimensions of the work-family interface, workload and perceived organizational support on positive and negative perceived stress, productivity and productivity satisfaction, four regressions were conducted.

The regression models considered as dependent variables respectively: positive stress, negative stress, scientific productivity and satisfaction productivity; while as independent variables we have two blocks: workload and perceived organizational support, the four work-family interface dimensions.

Three models were significant, while the regression model of the scientific productivity variable did not show significant results.

The first regression model (dependent variable: Positive Perceived Stress) explains 6.3% of the variance, the second regression model (dependent variable: Negative Perceived Stress) explains 20% of the variance, and the third regression model (dependent variable: productivity satisfaction) explains 18% of the variance; instead, the four regression model (dependent variable: scientific productivity) did not show significant results.

Specifically, the results of the first regression show that only the positive work-to-family spillover is predictive of the positive perceived stress; there is therefore a positive association between the positive perception of stress and the positive work-to-family direction.

The results of the second regression show three predictors with a significant influence on the negative perceived stress. In particular, the data show a negative relationship between age and the negative perceived stress, between the positive work-to-family spillover and the negative perceived stress, while there is a positive relationship between the negative work-to-family spillover and the negative perceived stress.

Finally, there are two predictors for the productivity satisfaction dimension. The data show a positive relationship between positive work-to-family spillover and productivity satisfaction, while there is a negative relationship between the negative family-to-work spillover and productivity satisfaction.

SUMMARY

  • Women feel more negative stress, even though at the same time they feel more supported by their own organization.
  • Full professors and associate professors are those who perceive the most workload and who perceive a conflict between the family and work domains with the family that negatively interfere with work.
  • Parents experience more negative stress than non-parents, but they feel more supported by the organization and experience more negative work-to-family and family-to-work spillover.
  • Positive stress is more associated with positive work-to-family spillover.
  • Negative stress is more associated with age (with increasing age, negative stress decreases) and with positive and negative work-to-family spillover.
  • Satisfaction with scientific productivity is mostly associated to a positive work-to-family spillover and to negative family-to-work spillover.
  • Scientific productivity is not explained by the dimensions analyzed in this study.
2021-07-20T10:34:29+02:00March 31st, 2021|Tags: , , , , , |

What has the covid crisis meant for the academic world?

By Paula de Dios Ruiz and Lorena Pajares Sánchez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

On Friday 5th of February, the UCM organised the online presentation act “Gender Impact of COVID-19” in which the UCM – SUPERA Team presented the results of the study done on working conditions, use of time and academic performance during the Covid-19 crisis among the academic staff of the UCM (PDI). Study that was carried out in June 2020, just after the hardest months of confinement and the State of Alarm in our country.

The event counted with the participation of Eva Alcón, Rector of the Jaume I University and Delegate of the Presidency for Equality Policies of the CRUE (Spanish Universities Rectors’ Conference); Magdalena Suárez Ojeda, Director of the Equality Unit at the UCM; and María Bustelo, Coordinator of the SUPERA project. Moreover, around 120 participants attended the event and enriched the discussion with questions and comments about the results. The recording of the event can be found at the UCM – SUPERA website, here.

The UCM – SUPERA Team has also systematised and described all the results of the study in a report, divided in 5 chapters following the surveys’ structure:
1. Academic and sociodemographic variables;
2. Working conditions;
3. Scientific production;
4. Uses of time and perception of efficacy;
5. Institutional support. 

One of the main findings to be highlighted is that significant differences between men and women appear in the answers of all chapters of the questionnaire. They reflect the presence of structural gender inequalities that perpetuates the traditional gender roles and stereotypes in academia, which seem to have been aggravated during the confinement and lockdown, as shown in the examples hereafter.

Significant differences are found already when looking into the sociodemographic variables of the UCM’s faculty staff, especially regarding family units, where it is identified that more women than men live with children under 18 years old and that the units with a single adult living with children are mostly headed by women. 

As regards the working conditions, female faculty have worse material working conditions than their male colleagues, shown by the fact that fewer women than men have good computer equipment and a working room for their own. 

Related to the distribution of reproductive works, women from the PDI of the UCM express to have dedicated more time than men to care and domestic work during confinement, with differences as relevant as 3 more hours per week on average dedicated to housework and cleaning, or caring for minor children. Moreover, it has come to light that the female faculty of the UCM have had less time available for rest, leisure and personal development.

If we focus on the scientific production, male PDI have been working and sending to publish more than the female PDI, with a clear difference in the production of articles for peer-reviewed journals. Analysing the perception of time dedicated to the different tasks of academic work, it can be highlighted that men dedicate more hours per week to writing papers, articles and books, while women dedicate more hours to preparing and teaching classes and exams and attending students.

These are just a few examples of the inequalities yielded by the study, but the overall results clearly outline the underlying academic profile of a successful scientific person: someone who has an exclusive dedication to scientific production, many hours a week invested in research activities and with less dedication to reproductive and care work. Not only at home but also at the university, care works seem to be a female responsibility, where there are tasks which are not recognised and valued on the career’s development criteria, such as preparing lessons or attending students, and those are tasks mainly done by women. 

The results must motivate us to continue working on gender equality at the UCM. For this reason, the report ends with a section of recommendations, which is considered a starting point from which to continue designing and proposing measures for the UCM’s GEP, as well as to continue working on the training and capacity building for the promotion of the implementation at all levels and departments of the gender mainstreaming strategy. 

The report is available here.  

2021-05-04T10:06:25+02:00March 31st, 2021|Tags: , , , , , |

XI European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education: save the date!

The Women and Science Unit of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Ministry of Universities, in cooperation with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), the Spanish Institute of Women, and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), are pleased to invite you to the 2021 Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education: https://www.genderequalityconference2021.com/

The European Conference Gender Equality in Higher Education (GEHE) is an academic forum to communicate new research and analysis on gender and science. These conferences also welcome presentations on the development of gender equality policies as well as on the implementation of gender equality plans in research performing organizations (RPOs) and research funding organizations (RFOs). The topics of the Conference that include a new thematic area on gender, science and COVID-19.

The 11th edition of GEHE was planned to be hosted by the UPM, Madrid, in September 2020 but the pandemic led to postpone the event. The Conference will be online from the 15th to the 17th of September 2021. More than 200 abstracts were already received and evaluated by our international scientific committee last year.

The online edition will include different activities:

  • Plenary conferences by main speakers.
  • Oral communications in parallel sessions.
  • Symposia/workshops.
  • High-level panel as closing event at ETSI Industriales –UPM (live streaming).
  • Online networking activities.

Follow the news on #GEHE2021 in the webpage: https://www.genderequalityconference2021.com

Gender-sensitive communication on social media, in practice: a pilot experience at UNICA


By Manuela Aru and Alessandro Lovari, University of Cagliari

A challenging, but definitely inspiring and stimulating experience. Every step of the process was fundamental: from the study of the materials to the design of every single part of the communication campaign”.

With these words, a student of the course of Public Sector Communication at the University of Cagliari described the experience in which she has been involved with other 19 students: a role-play activity in which the students had to act like a real communication agency, with the goal to design communication campaigns on Instagram, following the principles of gender-sensitive communication.

The initiative, designed and developed by Alessandro Lovari, Manuela Aru and Maria Antonietta Tolu (Department of Political and Social Sciences), has been promoted with the aim to foster the mainstreaming of a gender-equality culture within the students community and to put in practice the concepts highlighted by the gender-sensitive guidelines developed in SUPERA. In UNICA, the gender equality plan (GEP) can be conceived as an open laboratory, that may host pilot activities directly involving the different parts of the university community.

While the general goal of this pilot initiative was the engagement of the student’s community on the topics of equality and inclusion in academia, one of the specific objectives was to guide the students among the four steps of the design and implementation of an institutional social media communication campaign:
1) research and analysis of the context and the target groups;
2) remote brainstorming sessions to understand and analyse the proposed topics and key messages;
3) design and creation of gender-sensitive graphics and texts;
4) publication of the contents on Instagram, following an editorial calendar.

The final results can be described as effective, impactful and surprising, especially in terms of visual identity (the way you shape perception and create an impression through the values communicated by the graphics), tone of voice (the way students have decided to communicate the messages) and coherence between the general strategy and the objectives.

Effective – Although free of a previous knowledge or experience in the field of gender-sensitive communication, the students managed to adopt a perspective free of unconscious biases.

How shall we represent the impact of gender stereotypes on academic career? “No common metaphors: let’s pick the image of the domino effect”

What visual images can we use to describe the gender inequalities? “Not only ladders: what about depicting two funambulists linked each other by a rope, or two people together on a swing?”

A wide range of original representations have been chosen, from comic strips to statistics and graphs: an innovative and effective way to understand and describe gender-related issues to the wider public of the University community.

Campaigns by Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Elisa Frongia, Dario Fonnesu, Simone Pucci and Davide Caboni

Impactful – One of the most relevant outcomes one could highlight is the care devoted by the students to inclusion and gender-sensitivity both on texts and visuals. The thing that mainly drew our attention and curiosity has been the great variety of the visuals used to depict the different moments of the academic life. Books as big as houses, people with blue skin, paths made of words, non-binary people with rainbow hair: an impactful representation of the concept of inclusion.

Campaigns by Michela Locci, Valentina Demurtas, Sara Mandis Pusceddu, Francesca Delepierre, Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Laura Spissu, Silvia Uccheddu, Michela Vargiu and Giangabriele Tortora

Surprising – The use of Instagram could be considered an ordinary, daily and common task by 19-24 years old students; but it may still provide an effective way to get these students feel free to express their imagination and creativity. Indeed, Instagram includes text, video and pictures, with the possibility to create engagement with polls, question’s boxes, Stories and live streaming.

The most surprising detail concerns the capacity – and the courage – of the students to put themselves out there to create contents, express an opinion and talk about difficult topics such as gender-based violence, sexual harassment and mobbing with empathy and care. They created contents using the most powerful Instagram tools as the Stories (contents that disappear after 24 hours), the IGTV (longer videos used to create more compelling contents) and Reels (a new instrument to record and edit 15-seconds videos with music and effects). They always kept their language clear, as required by a public sector organisation, and respectful of all the differences and needs, in the effort to adopt an intersectional perspective.

Campaigns by Michela Locci, Valentina Demurtas, Sara Mandis Pusceddu, Francesca Delepierre, Lara Sciola, Marta Lilliu, Alessandro Useli and Alessandro Marras

It is important to highlight that the use of this uncommon approach by the students required an intense preliminary study: indeed, the first step of this project, according to the goals of the course, was the study of the key concepts of public sector communication and gender communication, and the analysis of different communication campaigns on gender topics released in Italy and Europe in the last few years. This preliminary work aimed at developing the ability to distinguish good and bad communication practices in the development of a campaign.

The study of the SUPERA communication plan provided a structure to the work projects: each group chose six of the SUPERA key messages – targeting the students communities – and developed six Instagram posts, with original graphics and captions. The analysis of the gender-sensitive communication guidelines produced by SUPERA has also been essential to guide the students through the values and the standards of gender-sensitive communication.

Campaigns by Laura Spissu, Silvia Uccheddu, Michela Vargiu, Giangabriele Tortora, Adelaide Fois, Luca Scintu, Marta Rachele Pusceddu, Riccardo Ansaldi, Lara Sciola, Marta Lilliu, Alessandro Useli and Alessandro Marras, Elisa Frongia, Dario Fonnesu, Simone Pucci and Davide Caboni

Each project was presented via Zoom to a committee of researchers and professionals in the fields of public and gender-sensitive communication who expressed its opinions and points of view on each work group, creating an inspiring moment of exchange and knowledge sharing. The committee was composed by a representation of the SUPERA team at UNICA and by a specialist in the public sector communication field, Franca Faccioli, Professor at the University of Rome – Sapienza.

We can definitely say it: the students of UNICA won this challenge! Great job!

2021-03-25T10:36:12+02:00March 12th, 2021|Tags: , , , , |

Fighting gender-based violence in research and academia: the UniSAFE project

By the UniSAFE Consortium

Gender-based violence is a pervasive global problem, and the context of research and higher education is no exception. Despite the scale and the social, economic and health costs of gender-based violence, it remains largely under-reported and under-researched.

Funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the UniSAFE project aims to produce better knowledge on gender-based violence (GBV) in research organisations and to translate this knowledge into operational tools for higher education, research organisations and policymakers. Launched in February 2021, UniSAFE will run for three years.

The project explores the mechanisms of GBV, its social determinants, antecedents and consequences, by developing an ambitious multi-level research design and a holistic 7P model, to collect, analyse, synthesise and compare qualitative and quantitative evidence at three levels:

  • Prevalence and impacts of GBV will be analysed via data gathered by a survey among 45 research performing organisations and by a Europe-wide survey of mobile researchers (micro level).
  • Organisational responses and infrastructure will be investigated via data gathered by in-depth case studies, interviews, and strategic mapping of research organisations in 15 member states (meso-level).
  • Legal and policy frameworks will be examined through extensive mapping by national experts in the 27 European member states and 3 associated countries (macro-level).

The 7P research model employed at UniSAFE covers Prevalence, Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Provision of services, Partnerships and Policy. This holistic approach is better equipped to collect comprehensive data, analyse their relation, and translate findings into operational tools than the conventional 3P model (Prevention, Protection, Prosecution) or the Istanbul Convention 4P model (3P and Policy).

UniSAFE is designed to achieve its results through research, education and outreach activities involving researchers, stakeholders and policymakers across Europe. As a result of the multi-field design, the project will provide in-depth knowledge of existing problems on the one hand, and current and future priorities on the other. Its outcomes will include:

  • A better understanding of GBV in European universities and research organisations and its impact on people, organisations and society.
  • Effective policies and measures implemented at universities and research organisations.
  • Increased capacity of students and staff to address GBV.
  • A toolkit and recommendations to reduce GBV in academic environments and research workplaces in Europe.

UniSAFE relies on a highly qualified and multi-disciplinary consortium, with a strong record on research, the law and policies to combat gender-based violence in the EU field of academia and research. Two of SUPERA’s partners are part of the UniSAFE consortium: the Complutense University of Madrid and Yellow Window.

2021-03-31T18:18:49+02:00March 11th, 2021|Tags: , , |

The unequal effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on Portuguese women academics


By Filipa Marques, Sofia Miguel (NOVA University Lisbon) Mónica Lopes (University of Coimbra)

The COVID-19 has caused substantial disruptions to academic activities:

  • Working parents have to balance their time between academic responsibilities, childcare and domestic tasks;
  • Professors have to ensure online lectures for their students, sometimes using pre-recorded lessons, in order to mitigate the distance;
  • Researchers have to adapt to a new reality, which constrains the lab work to a minimum.

The general impact of confinement measures in the academic performance of professors and researchers has been a subject of interest, mainly because most of working professors and researchers are also parents, some with young children in their care. It is a matter of public discussion that COVID-19 is having an uneven influence with those with child/adult care responsibilities – particularly women. Female professors and researchers have been facing more difficulties to publish their research due to the confinement caused by COVID-19, according to data that show that women’s publishing success dropped after schools closed [1, 2]. A recent study indicates a sharp decrease in original research-papers submissions by female researchers in several international journals, during confinement caused by COVID-19 [3]. As the novel virus reveals an endeavour to researchers in the medical and health sciences disciplines, the proportion of published papers in such fields dramatically increased to promptly allow results dissemination. In this regard, female publication success during this period should have increased, not decreased, since women have been increasing their representativeness in these fields [4, 5]. This fact illustrates the confinement effect on women’s publication records and at the preprint and journal submission stages.

In Portugal, COVID-19 has affected professors and researchers similarly, as in other countries, facing the same challenges. Aware of this, SPEAR partner, NOVA University Lisbon, has been laying foundations towards a more equal-opportunities-academic environment that aims to implement gender-sensitive policies and help reduce the institutional gender gap.

The data on the effects of COVID-19 in female academics are still scarce. However, there are two research projects ongoing, specifically devoted to exploring the effects of the pandemic at the national level. The only empirical research already documenting the impact of COVID-19 in the work conditions and academic performance of women in Portuguese research institutions has been carried out by the University of Coimbra, within the framework of the SUPERA project. Based on a survey questionnaire of teaching and research staff, the findings shed light on gender inequalities that are shaping COVID’s impact on working conditions, work-life balance, and academic time usage and efficacy. It has been particularly more difficult to academic women, especially younger mothers in non-tenure-track positions.

In Portugal, academic women seem to be more exposed to not only the severity of psychological/emotional effects of the COVID-19 crisis but also to the increased burden of domestic and care duties during confinement. Moreover, the pandemic appears to affect disproportionately the housework and care routines of women (especially younger academic mothers), as well as the personal routines of female academics, who reported more often a reduction of leisure time during the lockdown.

The increased household and emotional burdens arising from COVID restrictions also affect the work-family negotiations and conflicts, posing differentiated challenges to reconcile the competing time demands of paid work and family. Substantial differences are observed between men and women perceptions of how the pandemic has affected their work. Female academics and academics with young children in the household most frequently emphasise the influence of COVID-19 on the amount of time dedicated to professional work. Moreover, when analysing the changes on time allocation to the various domains of the academic activity, one can observe that the reinforcement of teaching and administrative tasks during the confinement is specially bound to female dedication. In the case of young mothers, the priority given to teaching occurs at the expense of research activities (e.g., manuscript and grant writing, peer review and serving on funding panels) which are critical to career progression.

The study also gives important insights on the extent to which the distinctive burdens imposed by the lockdown to female scientists and scientists with young children impacted academic productivity. Nevertheless, it is too early to get a complete picture of this impact, as the lockdown period has been relatively short compared to normative research timelines. The outputs considered to explore the effects of the pandemic in academic productivity were mainly of scientific character but also connected to pedagogical activities, knowledge transfer and dissemination. When solely considered, neither gender nor parental status significantly affected the changes in academic output observed during the “stay home order”. Nonetheless, when considered in combination, gender and parental status displayed a significant influence in the differences observed between the pre-pandemic and pandemic period, placing female scientists with children up to 12 in a particular disadvantage.

Moreover, women without children and men with and without children have increased their output submission during the confinement, whereas younger academic mothers faced an inverse trend. This difference may further aggravate the gap between men and women, as said institutions have an increasingly research-oriented strategy. This may translate into a significant disproportion of the performance management policies regarding tenure, recognition and promotion since most academic careers evolve directly from strong publication records and academic performance [6].

Although limited in scale and scope, this study provides sound quantitative evidence highlighting gender disparities in how the pandemic has affected the scientific workforce in Portugal. Academic institutions and funding organisations should consider the inequalities regarding not only academic productivity but also material and non-material working conditions to put in place some measures. The metrics to assess funding and academic position applications rely on bibliometric indicators that tend to be unidimensional. Therefore, a requirement for academic assessment and monitoring should include institutional measures to promote career development and talent retention, a more diverse and inclusive working environment, and family-friendly policies. These would be important to provide resources for early-career academics, particularly women with young children, to attenuate the negative effects of academic productivity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This article is the result of a joint initiative among the H2020 sister projects SPEAR and SUPERA and has been published also on the SPEAR website.