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NSF COVID DEI Challenge
Florida International University, FL
We tried to address the non-random distribution of adverse consequences from Covid-19 for STEM faculty, especially for faculty seeking tenure and/or promotion in the relatively near future. While nearly all faculty experienced minor to major disruptions to their work lives, female faculty in general, and especially those with young children at home, experienced some of the worst disruptions, often as a function of gendered patterns around caretaking in both academic and domestic settings. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we reconfigured our suite of well-respected ADVANCE programs, originally designed to promote equity and diversity by training faculty and administrators to recognize and mitigate the gender and race biases that disproportionately affect the careers of female and racially minoritized faculty. We used these platforms and our existing relationships to disseminate research about Covid’s gendered challenges to faculty and administrators, while providing strategies and tactics to help them leverage university policies and the pandemic-specific Memorandum of Understanding to address those challenges, rather than ignoring or exacerbating them. Even at a university that has made a systemic institutional commitment to the goals of the NSF ADVANCE program’s goals, Covid-19’s multi-year impact on research, teaching, and other academic work is likely to have long-term consequences for faculty funding, publications, hiring, promotion, and retention, and those consequences will likely be as inequitable over the long term as they were at the pandemic’s height. If we take a wait-and-see attitude, we risk losing the fruit of a decade and more of individual and collective investment in inclusive excellence.
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Foundation under grant HRD-1818635. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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