WFH a great challenge for many academics

Working from home has propelled us all into changing our routines and for female academics with younger children, the work situation has been especially challenging. We spoke to several colleagues in the department who have fought hard to stay sane while juggling online teaching, research and administrative tasks with the demands of home schooling and child care.

As we all know the impacts of COVID-19 are not gender neutral. Women shoulder more of the carer’s burden. Even if men are having to step up to help out more at home, this pandemic has really affected our female academics.

Solmaz Moslehi

Mother of Maya, 3 and Mason, 9 months

Solmaz Moslehi with husband Ash and their two kids Maya and Mason.

"I'm teaching in semester one. As a result of COVID-19 shutting down we suddenly and very quickly had to adjust to teaching online which was a major challenge. At the same time, we had to find new routines for the kids with all the restrictions. It was a very stressful time with new changes everyday and most importantly explaining the changes to the kids and ensuring they are not impacted by restrictions both physically and mentally. Coordinating the work with my husband was key but during the first six weeks I didn’t have time to do any research, teaching was my only focus. The situation has meant less sleep and working most weekends to keep up."

Michelle Rendall

Mother of two daughters, Nalini aged 2 and Meenakshi, aged 7 months

Michelle Rendall with daughters Nalini and Meena.

"I have been working when they nap, and at night every day of the week including weekends. The older one has spent more time in front of a screen than I would like. I have said no to a couple of referee reports, but all the editors have been really understanding. My husband Andrew has been taking a couple of days of carer’s leave to make it easier on me. I suppose you could say, the commute, the chat over the coffee machine or lunch has been replaced with playing with my kids, so "you win some, you lose some." In addition, for the introvert in us, I do find working from home comes with its upside. Part of me dreads going back to 'normal'. Lastly, I do find articles suggesting that people have more time and taking up hobbies humorous. I barely find time to read the news each day, let alone watch a movie or take up a new hobby."

Laura Puzzello

Mother of Matteo, 6 and Manuel 1.5 years old

Laura Puzzello with sons Matteo and Manuel.

‘We had both kids at home for about seven weeks. My husband Pietro and I took shifts. This meant we had to work weekends and evenings to make up some hours. When homeschooling started, things became much harder. My oldest son Matteo needed some attention and quiet to complete tasks or zoom meetings; with my youngest son Manuel around that was almost impossible. A couple of weeks after homeschooling started we felt comfortable sending Manuel back to childcare as the numbers of COVID cases dropped. That simplified things again. But the important message for all of us as we move on from this situation is: our efforts this year might not show on our CVs but they most likely are our greatest achievement."