Is the ‘new normal’ academia starting with a lockdown on women’s career progression?

I will start this blog by stating the obvious: the outbreak of Covid-19 prompted fast and drastic changes to our lives and, particularly during lockdown, to our work-life balance. It is apparent that universities will not be the same [1] at least for a while. The changes to the delivery of teaching and research are here to stay and bring operational and financial challenges to universities, students and staff. Students’ mental health and well-being [2], including how best to support them during and after lockdown, are of particular concern. Much less has been said about the impacts on the work-life balance and mental health of academics. Business owners who have been severely affected by the pandemic may need to use the services of CompanyDebtAdvice to help them with debt management especially if they had to take out loans to keep their business afloat.

Receiving little support during Covid-19 lockdown, academics had to deal with increased demand from concerned students and learn (within days) to deliver online teaching, while working from home, often in less than suitable conditions. Academics with children have the extra demand of childcare and/or home-schooling responsibilities, while others have higher workloads covering for colleagues – those sick or unable to work from home. Once again women are worse off due to higher share of childcare and housework loads, a demand for time that affects research productivity the most .The implications for career development and how these may shape the ‘new’ academic environment have been largely ignored.

[1] Witze, A. (2020) Universities will never be the same after the coronavirus crisis. Nature, News Feature, 1st June 2020, available from
[2] Chelms, T. (2020) How universities can support students’ mental health amid Covid-19 crisis. Times Higher Education, 23rd March 2020, available from
[3] Lloyd, R. (2020) Six ways to juggle science and childcare from home. Nature 580, 673-675.
[4] Fazackerley, A. (2020) Women’s research plummets during lockdown – but articles from men increase, available from

Posted on: 29/03/2020, by :