My lockdown plan

After almost a year of working from home, periodically while keeping two small children entertained and home schooled, I was at the end of my tether in December. Starting a big project and recruiting a group of new people, managing my group in Manchester, continuing to teach, Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting – keeping all the balls in the air, bending over backwards to get everything done, firefighting since March. The constant, constant pressure of everything, and not having time for anything. It had all been too much. And then, just before the Christmas holiday that I needed more than ever, we went into a full lockdown again. I was so run down, I could not go on like this. I needed a plan.

I started drawing my lockdown-life during the first lockdown

I needed a plan to make sure I would not burn myself out, to reduce the constant feeling of anxiety (triggered by constantly checking email and Twitter), and to restore the confidence that I had lost over the past months. Yes, I had lost confidence. Stuck at my computer in sweat pants, wiping bums while on Zoom calls, I felt like I did when I was on maternity leave: reduced to a mum, and nothing but a mum. And of course, the people on the other side of my screen were all still professional, and able to think coherently, and in control of their work, and their lives. Or so I thought. Continue reading

Are women with kids struggling more under lockdown?

Let’s be clear about this: a lot of people are struggling during these trying times, and for a variety of reasons. Many people worry about the health and wellbeing of themselves or their loved ones, about keeping their jobs, and about paying their bills.

I have a permanent position in academia, which means that I am in the very fortunate position of not having to worry about losing my job. Universities might be hit in the long term, but there are little immediate consequences of the corona crisis for their economic viability.

But academia is infamous for its high workload. A recent survey under Dutch academics indicated that they work on average 36% more than their contractual hours a week. It’s also known for its persistent bias against women. Only 23% of Dutch full professors are female (not to speak of women of colour!). In addition, there is a motherhood penalty: women who have children are disadvantaged in their career even more than those that don’t have children, while men that have children are not disadvantaged at all. Continue reading