Uni pandemic protection measures: how woman fared

An analysis of university policy responses to COVID 19 finds their impact was unequal

 Georgina Sutherland and Uni Melbourne colleagues examined what was done at 29 Australian universities and fond “a reliance on existing workplace mechanisms.”

Overall, little attention was paid to how gender might impact on the need for, or access to, policies in response to COVID-19, they conclude*

They examined five policy areas.

* support for HDR students: “consideration” for women being parent/carer and PhD student was “noticeably absent”

* leave: arrangements “largely unchanged” with little awareness that staff might have different needs for leave

* remote working: “we found only one university that explicitly acknowledged and challenged its staff to consider reorienting the gendered status quo of caring, domestic and parenting practices that dominate many households in Australia”

* managing/supervising staff: no universities offered “formal flexible working policies in response to Covid-19”

* academic promotion: no universities acknowledged the pandemic, “may pose additional barriers to women seeking promotion”

“The need for flexibility in response to COVID-19 was frequently framed as an individual rather than an organisational or structural problem positioning line managers and supervisors as ‘gatekeepers’ to the arrangements,” the authors write.

* Georgina Sutherland, Martha Vazquez Corona, Meghan Bohren, Tania King, Lila Moosad, Humaira Mahreen, “A rapid gender impact assessment of Australian university responses to COVID-19,” Higher Education Research and Development, published on-line August 31