15 жовтня Катерина Зарембо взяла участь в обговоренні “Як пандемія COVID-19 впливає на мою дослідницьку роботу в / щодо Євразії – і що з цим робити”, ораганізованому Інститутом європейської політики в Берліні
15 жовтня берлінський Інститут європейської політики провів дискусію “Як пандемія COVID-19 впливає на мою дослідницьку роботу в / щодо Євразії – і що з цим робити” в рамках Eurasia Lab & Fellowship Program. Програма покликана об’єднати дослідників, практиків та активістів, які працюють у країнах Євразії.
Під час обговорення Катерина Зарембо поділилася своїм досвідом, як пандемія вплинула на її дослідницьку роботу:
My name is Kateryna Zarembo. I combine social science research and teaching at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and policy research as an associate fellow at the New Europe Center, both located in Kyiv, Ukraine. Together with my husband I also rear three children, the oldest of whom is 8 and the youngest has just turned one. Balancing work and family has always been my priority and I’ve coped relatively well so far. However, the pandemic and the related measures have put my resilience to an excruciating test.
Back in March, with two children studying remotely from home and with a baby on my hands I was close to declaring “the intellectual bankruptcy”. Of all types of work activities research component was hit the hardest. In contrast to other jobs which you can move forward by quick calls and e-mails, research requires slow thinking, silence and creative energy – all of which is impossible when your home, office and kids’ school are one and the same place.
During this time you learn that concentration-requiring research tasks should be done at night (to be sure, these speaking notes are no exception), when the kids are finally asleep and the house is quiet – no matter the toll on your health and well-being. For other types of activities which are impossible for the night shifts, e.g. lecturing and zoom-meetings, the only way is alternative childcare, which is often an additional burden on the budget. Thus, researchers and, above all, female researchers who still care the bigger share of household and childcare responsibilities, are caught in a vicious circle of fewer working hours, less productivity and increased financial challenges – while the competition out there is as demanding as ever.
Times Higher Education, for example, has already observed the immediate consequences for the research output of the female academics dropped steeply in spring 2020 – share of papers submitted by the first female authors to various journals dropped by about a third. However, it is highly likely that the pandemic will take a toll on the career opportunities of women in research for years to come, unless any measures are taken to counter this exacerbated gender inequality situation.
Probably one thing in which the researchers in Eastern Europe are slightly better off than their Western colleagues (though one should be wary of generalizations) is field research. In Eastern Europe – in countries like Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia, for example – the researchers in social sciences have been used to collect data on a budget: substituting costly field trips overseas with skype interviews, doing online snowballing surveys instead of commissioning expensive nationwide polling and actually using their home country as their data source. For this reason the closure of borders might have been less of a challenge for some researchers in Eastern Europe than to their colleagues from the West.
There is also another point worth mentioning: in XXI century closed borders do not mean cut off networks. At times when all international events went online, participation has actually become more accessible for the researcher from Eastern Europe, at least in terms of money, time and distance. This year’s UACES Conference, for example, was scheduled to be in Belfast, which for me meant obtaining a costly UK visa, paying participation fee, flight and accommodation as well as leaving my family for a week. Because of the pandemic my participation was infinitely more efficient: all I had to do was to click at a relevant link at the designated time of the panels.
However, these “pandemic perks” only work if you have time on your hands, and during the lockdown working time for female researchers has become a luxury which comes at a high price – at the cost of your health, budget or both. It is for this reason that the academic community should lobby for a changed approach before the disparity between parents and non-parents, female and male researchers has become too wide to bridge.
Some possible measures include:
– Childcare subsidies included in research grants (both residential and non-residential)
– Accelerated peer review for publications of the parents (especially mothers) of young children
– Policy of “pandemic leave” for the applications for scholarships, tenures, etc – many of such offers are age (e.g. “under 35”) or year limit (e.g. “within 5 years of completing your PhD”) oriented. However, the pandemic has made a negative impact on what female researchers can achieve within certain age or period of time. Significantly extended deadlines should apply to female researchers with children
– Paid leaves and fewer teaching hours would be a significant support for parents with pressing childcare responsibilities.
If at least some of these measures are implemented, this would mean that at least the pandemic has had its silver lining for moving the “maternity wall” a bit.
Фото: LivingNotes – Olya Hill.