“What Needs to be Done to Ensure Gender Equity in Academia in the Wake of COVID-19”
Co-moderators: Anca Dobrian, PhD and Natasha Sriraman, MD MPH
In academia, women face both inequity and inequality and COVID-19 pandemic and recession is compounding multiple stressors that are deepening the gender bias. The goal of the session was to: i) discuss current literature that addresses life-work balance and career advancement of women in academic medical centers during COVID-19 pandemic, and ii) engage in a dialog with the audience regarding shared experiences and potential solutions to current barriers.
In the first part of the session Dr. Sriraman addressed the issue of childcare and it’s impact on the life/work balance in the time of the pandemic. Mothers, by far, have taken the brunt of childcare during this pandemic. This directly impacts women in academia, whether clinical or research based, as professional moms face the increasing challenges of balancing home and work, while continuing to maintain professional obligations. We discussed the variability between institutions that offers support to our working mothers, while discussing ways in that EVMS can not only support but address the needs of female trainees and faculty to help minimize the stressors, which are now especially heightened during COVID. Based on comments during this session, a taskforce looking at on-campus childcare will be established.
In the second part of the discussion Dr. Dobrian summarized recently published literature that addresses the effects of the pandemic on women’s career advancement with a focus on promotion and tenure. Actionable solutions at institutional and individual level were discussed. The need for an institutional level adjustment of the promotion and tenure criteria was part of the dialogue. Participants were updated on the adjustments that were already made by the A&P committee under Dr. Mylona’s leadership to acknowledge the scholarship work that was impacted by the pandemic. Also, an example of a template that allows adjustment of faculty CV to report activities during “COVID time” was presented as an individual actionable item.