Category: Caregivers

Mothers Rebuild: Solutions to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges

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.


February 18 2021 ADVANCE Weekly Roundup

The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on all aspects of academia. An article from Science reports that recent studies indicate that the pandemic’s impact has hit academic mothers particularly hard. It has exacerbated existing disparities and created further challenges for women, including significant loss of time dedicated to research. Today’s edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup features this article which encourages the use and consideration of COVID-19 impact statements in current and post-pandemic tenure and promotion reviews.

If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to advance-mtu@mtu.edu and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog (https://blogs.mtu.edu/advance/). To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at (advance-mtu@mtu.edu) or visit our website: www.mtu.edu/advance.


October 30, 2020 ADVANCE Weekly Roundup

If the weather of late has told us anything it’s that Heikke Lunta has awakened. With winter weather just around the corner and COVID-19 disruptions continuing, ADVANCE at Michigan Tech dedicates this week’s edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup to the updated University policy on Children in the  Workplace. This policy has been updated in recent years and we encourage employees to be aware of both this policy as well as policies regarding visitors under the MTU Flex plan.

If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to advance-mtu@mtu.edu and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog (https://blogs.mtu.edu/advance/). To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at (advance-mtu@mtu.edu) or visit our website: www.mtu.edu/advance.


August 28, 2020 ADVANCE Weekly Roundup

The efforts of faculty parents to balance work and childcare has recently been brought back into the spotlight given the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need for strong institutional responses to alleviate the additional burdens of limited childcare facilities. Retention of faculty and staff parents is highly dependent upon our community supporting all members through trying times for long-term productivity of the institution. Today’s edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup features an article from Inside Higher Education that outlines examples of strong institutional responses. ADVANCE at Michigan Tech is working on small interactive educational activities for children during our programming. Contact the ADVANCE Resource Center to learn more.

Today’s article was shared by Adrienne Minerick, Dean of the College of Computing. If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to advance-mtu@mtu.edu and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog (https://blogs.mtu.edu/advance/). To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at (advance-mtu@mtu.edu) or visit our website: www.mtu.edu/advance.


May 8, 2020 ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: Special Edition

Today for a special edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup, we’d like to highlight some of the challenges facing faculty and staff while working from home during the pandemic. It should be noted that while everyone encounters them, these challenges can have a larger impact on women and primary caregivers. This list has been compiled from faculty comments, our own experiences, or reports in the national news.

Childcare challenges: despite ongoing demands for research and publishing, childcare remains inadequate both during the academic year and throughout the summer. In addition, local schools are unlikely to follow the same timeline as Michigan Tech’s return to work, leaving parents responsible for temporary solutions.

Healthcare challenges: caring for ill family members can drain a faculty member’s energy and focus yet this responsibility is often immediate, demanding, and isolating. 

Underlying conditions: the critical impact of often invisible underlying health conditions has been magnified in the current pandemic but these conditions must be managed daily and often with little or no recognition or support for the challenges involved.

Stress and challenges to mental well-being: there are insufficient resources for faculty and staff both on campus and in the local area for addressing stress, burn-out, and well-being in ways that are confidential, readily available, and move beyond or at least personalize self-help measures to adjust to individual levels of motivation, abilities, and resources.


If you recognize these issues, one avenue for change is through more responsive university policies. It is time to advance concrete proposals for employee support across all campus units. One way to start is to contact your University Senate representative.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Contact us to learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources. (advance-mtu@mtu.edu, website: www.mtu.edu/advance).


April 24, 2020 ADVANCE Weekly Roundup

From an infection standpoint, CoVid-19 seems to be affecting men more than women. But how is it impacting productivity in academe? Recent data from several journals however are indicating that submissions from women are declining. This edition of the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup focuses on the extra burdens placed on women in academe during this crisis. From extra childcare duties to extra cooking and housework at home not equitably picked up by women to the detriment of time to spend on research and writing seems to be falling behind.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/04/21/early-journal-submission-data-suggest-covid-19-tanking-womens-research-productivity?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=9066666883-DiversityMatters_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-9066666883-198514129&mc_cid=9066666883&mc_eid=e2ce04109d&fbclid=IwAR0wAVXPwBZhTUo5xImvxWMUfy23ApLW2tsIyKhc3XeMZ4l3-Mib56Cjm20

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Contact us to learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources. (advance-mtu@mtu.edu, website: www.mtu.edu/advance).