Why we want to help
Despite their predominant numbers at the undergraduate and graduate levels, women generally remain under-represented in academia. This is known as the ‘pipeline effect’, in which women pursue academic advancement post-PhD at a lower rate than men, with many declining to take up academic positions. This effect, although under-studied, appears to be the result of the highly competitive nature of academia, which adversely affects women in both their decision to embark on an academic career and their development within that career.
Academic workloads at all levels are often excessive, with unrealistic expectations regarding research output and the unpaid overtime that is necessary to work competitively. Ninety per cent of full-time academics work over 40 hours a week, including 51 per cent who work over 50 hours a week (and this can mean anywhere up to 80 hours a week). Given the continued social expectations and structural factors that result in women often assuming the bulk of the responsibility of meeting the demands of parenthood and other caring roles, these workloads are quite simply impossible for many female academics to sustain. Despite the progress that many academic institutions have made regarding caring’s effect on academic work, it is undeniable that overall there is a systemic failure to recognise all the ways that caring, particularly motherhood, can profoundly alter a female academic’s career.