NYT interviews Escallón about pandemic’s effects on female faculty

Maria Fernanda Escallón

Maria Fernanda Escallón, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon and mother to a 3-year-old daughter, is featured in an Oct. 6 New York Times story about how the pandemic is impacting women in academia who already faced obstacles on the path to advancing their research and careers.

After the pandemic started, Escallón began working from a walk-in closet and occasionally a backyard shed to steal quiet moments away from the demands of caregiving. She has been working on a book, one of many publications she feels she will need to secure tenure.

“I hope the administration realizes that anything they do now to alleviate this issue for caregivers will directly impact how the professoriate will look five to 10 years from now — how diverse it will be, and how many women will be in positions of power within academia,” she told the NYT.

In June, Escallón along with CSWS director and law professor Michelle McKinley and anthropology professor Lynn Stephen co-authored a letter to UO leadership urging that immediate steps be taken to alleviate unequal burdens for faculty caregivers during the pandemic and beyond.

“The costs of continued expectations for service and research added to teaching demands on junior faculty and others who have to keep on doing child and elder care and schooling will be cumulative and have differential impact,” the letter stated. “This will be evident not just during the period before there is a vaccine but going forward in their academic careers.”

The letter launched the CSWS Campaign for Caregivers, which so far has resulted in some additional support for faculty, staff, and GEs with child or elder care responsibilities. New resources for caregivers include the following:

CSWS is continuing to advocate for systemic changes and ongoing support for caregivers.