The Chronicle of Higher Education
by Emma Pettit
February 25, 2021
Faculty members are anxious and burned out. Juggling work and disrupted personal lives in the midst of a pandemic, they need help if they are going to remain — and flourish — in academe. The Chronicle recently released a special report, Burned Out and Overburdened, that explores how colleges can provide support. Here is a condensed excerpt from the report.
A frantic spring. A grueling fall and winter. The past year has not been kind to the faculty. In a survey this past October, conducted by The Chronicle and underwritten by Fidelity Investments, more than 75 percent of the 1,122 faculty respondents said their workload had increased since the start of the year. The majority said their work-life balance had deteriorated. And with the global pandemic still not under control, the next months are uncertain.
Experts worry that without proper intervention, faculty careers could be destabilized for years to come, especially those of women and people of color. In normal times, women were already more likely to perform service work for their departments and rank lower in the academic hierarchy. Faculty of color generally spend more time mentoring students of color and performing other forms of “invisible labor,” or work that isn’t recognized in the typical faculty-reward structure. With the most recent rise of the racial-justice movement, demands on those scholars have only increased.
Those disparities, baked into the system, have been amplified by the pandemic, says Cassidy R. Sugimoto, a professor of informatics at Indiana University at Bloomington who is studying women’s article submissions in the wake of Covid-19. When colleges and K-12 schools went remote, suddenly, child care and other domestic duties were disproportionately shunted onto women’s shoulders. Plus, students now need more support — and teaching takes more time — than ever. As a result, many scholars who were already the emotional glue of their academic communities have had little to no time to produce research, to plant the seeds that normally bear scholarly fruit months or years into the future.