by Allison Mills, University Marketing and Communications
Over the summer and fall, paper after paper revealed that mothers are one of the demographics hardest hit by the pandemic. From layoffs and leaving careers to do caretaking, to submission rate decreases and additional service projects, the data were clear, but the follow up less so. Many of the problems are not new and will remain after the pandemic. But a new paper, published this week in PLOS Biology, outlines methods to help solve them.
“In the spirit of the well-worn adage ‘never let a good crisis go to waste,’ we propose using these unprecedented times as a springboard for necessary, substantive and lasting change,” write the paper’s 13 co-authors, including Amy Marcarelli (Bio Sci), who helped lead the paper’s section addressing professional societies. She sees the work through her lens as an ecosystem ecologist.
“Some of my most recent work has been around cascading and indirect effects and how effects viewed on short time scales may have very different outcomes at long time scales,” Marcarelli said. “What I’ve learned from that research is that you can’t abstract a single characteristic of an organism and expect that to explain its ecological role. And [in academia] we try so often to treat ourselves as researchers — and not as mothers and partners and daughters and leaders — and that’s to the detriment of all of us. It’s to the detriment of us as individuals but it’s also to the detriment of our academic system because if we don’t treat people as whole people then we fail them.”
Marcarelli joined researchers who are also parents to outline ways to help mothers recover and rebuild academic careers during and after the pandemic. Read their solutions on mtu.edu/news and follow the conversation with @mturesearch on Twitter.