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Academic Challenges for Women Scholars: Announcing an Online Women’s Writing Forum

By Annette Finley-Croswhite

When the Covid-19 pandemic broke, I relayed an anecdote in FacSheet that scholars had cited on the Internet, noting that Sir Isaac Newton did some of his best work during the 1665 Great Plague outbreak in England. On May 7, 2020, Scientific American was quick to point out that Newton wasn't faced with child care responsibilities.

The "500 Women Scientists" who remarked on Newton reflected a growing concern among academics and journal editors who have observed a rising number of article submissions since the beginning of the pandemic, but also a decrease in submissions by women. Another study from the American Journal of Political Science covering the last three years and cited in a recent article from Inside Higher Ed noted that submissions by women are up over the last three years, but not as significantly as those by men, and not now in the context of the pandemic. Kathleen Dolan and Jennifer L. Lawless, who wrote the study, state, "Even if women's overall submission rates are up, they seem to have less time to submit their own work than men do amid the crisis."

Many scholars and media commentators note that the responsibilities for caregiving and home-schooling have fallen disproportionally on mothers, academic or otherwise, even if they have helpful partners. Caregiving is especially pronounced for women when babies are nursing. I well remember sitting in my office in 2001 after the birth of my second son and knowing I was hallucinating from lack of sleep. Single-parent scholars face even greater challenges finding time for research. The concerns women scholars have now in the pandemic setting are very real, whether they have child care, eldercare or other kinds of responsibilities and stressors that can make writing difficult. Continual societal unrest is also a major factor that is affecting faculty.

Dr. Narketta Sparkman-Key and I have heard faculty concerns. As a result, to jump-start productivity during the summer we are jointly sponsoring and leading an Online Women's Writing Forum via the Academic Affairs Office of Faculty Diversity and Retention and the Center for Faculty Development. The dates are June 8-July 17 with access the first day via ZOOM at https://odu.zoom.us/j/3530300748. Plan to meet June 8 at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

The link to our Google Docs invitation is here. Please fill it out and get ready to write, network and collaborate.

Additionally, plan to join us on June 4 at noon to begin the conversation with a special edition of "Diverse Conversations" led by Dr. Sparkman-Key and focused on "Covid-19: The Impact on Women in Higher Ed." Please register, then join us at https://odu.zoom.us/j/3530300748.

We look forward to working together this summer.

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