Sharing Stories of Mothering, Academia and the COVID 19 Pandemic: Multiple Roles, Messiness and Family Wellbeing

Authors

  • Hanneke Croxen MacEwan University
  • Margot Jackson MacEwan University
  • Mary Asirifi MacEwan University
  • Holly Symonds-Brown MacEwan University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1929-8471.98

Keywords:

Gender Inequity, Work Life Balance, Pandemic Impacts on Children, Women’s Mental Health, Academia, Mothering, COVID-19 Pandemic

Abstract

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused disruption. Responsibilities increased especially for people who identify as mothers needing to balance work and caring for their child(ren). Through the use of personal narratives, we explored our experiences as mothers who work in academia. The purpose of this commentary is to explore the commonalities of our experiences of trying to maintain the multiple roles and responsibilities demanded from us as mothers and academics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two themes emerged: multiple roles and responsibilities and embracing the ‘messiness’. The need to take on multiple roles simultaneously such as working from home and parenting was challenging. Embracing the ‘messiness’ demonstrated that caring for our children while working from home caused their needs and our time to focus on them to be compromised. Our work and productivity were impacted with minimal available support but this was not acknowledged within the business as usual practices of the university. The conditions that negatively impact us, also negatively impact our children. Children have needed to adjust to pandemic conditions and their support has been compromised due to the other competing demands mothers face.  As academics, our future work will be informed and shaped from this experience, and so too will the growth and development of our children. Our experiences from this pandemic highlight the gendered inequities present within academia and the potential negative effects on child well-being. We call attention to this issue to help promote change and advocate for mothers working in academia and elsewhere. 

References

Beech, H. H., Sutton, A., & Cheatham, L. (2021). Parenting, privilege, and pandemic: From surviving to thriving as a mother in the academy. Qualitative Social Work, 20 (1–2), 625–631. DOI: 10.1177/1473325020973328

Boncori, I. (2020). The Never-ending shift: A feminist reflection on living and organizing academic lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Gender, Work & Organization, 27, 677–682, DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12451

Biag, K. (2021). Short communication contextualising gender intersectionality with the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health, 198 (2021), 171-173.

Canadian Women Foundation (2021) Almost half of mothers in Canada are “reaching their breaking point”. Canadian Women’s Foundation. https://canadianwomen.org/blog/almost-half-of-mothers-in-canada-are-reaching-their-breaking-point/

Cohodes, E., McCauley, & Gee, D. (2021). Parental buffering of stress in the time of COVID‑19: Family‑level factors may moderate the association between pandemic‑related stress and youth symptomatology. Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology 49, 935–948 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-020-00732-6

Cost, K. T., Crosbie, J., Anagnostou, E., Birken, C. S., Charach, A., Monga, S., Kelley, E., Nicolson, R., Maguire, J. L., Burton, C. L., Schachar, R. J., Arnold, P. D., & Korczak, D. J. (2021). Mostly worse, occasionally better: impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Canadian children and adolescents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 1–14. https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1007/s00787-021-01744-3

Crook, S. (2020) Parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020: academia, labour and care work. Women's History Review, 29(7), 1226-1238, DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2020.1807690

Davis, J. C., Li, E. P. H., Butterfield, M. S., DiLabio, G. A., Santhagunam, N., & Marcolin, B. (2022). Are we failing female and racialized academics? A Canadian national survey examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on tenure and tenure-track faculty. Gender Work Organization, 29 (3),703–722. DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12811

Ferrant, G., Pessando, L. M., & Nowacka, N. (2014). Unpaid care work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes. OECD development center. https://www.oecd.org/dev/development-gender/Unpaid_care_work.pdf

Gadermann, A. C, Thomson K. C., Richardson, C. G., Gagné, M., McAuliffe, C., Hirani, S., Jenkins, E. (2021). Examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on family mental health in Canada: findings from a national cross-sectional study. British Medical Journal,11, e042871. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-042871

Górska, A. M., Kulicka, K., Staniszewska, Z., & Dobija, D. (2021). Deepening inequalities: What did COVID‐19 reveal about the gendered nature of academic work? Gender, Work & Organization, 28(4), 1546–1561. https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1111/gwao.12696

Guruge, S. & Khanlou, N. (2004). Intersectionalities of influence: Researching the health of immigrant and refugee women. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 36(3); 32–47.

Hankivsky (2012). Women’s health, men’s health, and gender and health: Implications of intersectionality. Social Science & Medicine, 74(11), 1712-1720.

Hall, S. M. ( 2020). Revisiting geographies of social reproduction: Everyday life, the endotic, and the infra‐ordinary. Area. 52, 812–819. DOI: 10.1111/area.12646.

Heijstra, T., Bjarnason, T., & Rafnsdóttir, G. L. (2015). Predictors of gender inequalities in

the rank of full professor. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 59(2), 214–230. https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1080/00313831.2014.90441.

Karki, U., Dhonju, G., & Kunwar, A. R. (2020). Parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Nepal Medical Association, 58(251), 957-959, doi: 10.31729/jnma.5319

Lee, S., Ward, K., Chang, O., & Downing, K. (2021). Parenting activities and the transition to home-based education during the COVID-19 pandemic, Children and Youth Services Review, 49, 935-948, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105585

Mental Health Commission of Canada (2021). Lockdown life: Mental health effects of COVID-19 on youth in Canada. https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/wp-content/uploads/drupal/2021-02/lockdown_life_eng.pdf

Oleschuk, M. (2020). Gender Equity Considerations for Tenure and Promotion during COVID-19. Canadian Review of Sociology. 57(30), 502 - 515. https://doi.org/10.1111/cars.12295

Power, K. (2020) The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the care burden of women and families, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 16 (1), 67-73. doi:10.1080/15487733.2020.1776561

Probert, B. (2005). ‘I Just Couldn’t Fit It In’: Gender and Unequal Outcomes in Academic Careers. Gender, Work & Organization, 12(1), 50–72. https://doi-org.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2005.00262.x

Roos, L., Salisbury, M., Penner-Goeke, L., Cameron, E., Protudjer, J., Giuliano, R, et al. (2021) Supporting families to protect child health: Parenting quality and household needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251720. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251720

Viglione, G. (2020). Are women publishing less during the pandemic? Here’s what the data say. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01294-9

Downloads

Published

2022-06-01

How to Cite

Croxen, H., Jackson, M. ., Asirifi, M., & Symonds-Brown, H. (2022). Sharing Stories of Mothering, Academia and the COVID 19 Pandemic: Multiple Roles, Messiness and Family Wellbeing. INYI Journal. https://doi.org/10.25071/1929-8471.98

Issue

Section

Commentary