Pandemic Motherhood and the Academy: A Critical Examination of the Leisure-Work Dichotomy

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In late 2017, a critical investigation of the impact of motherhood on perceptions of success in academia, specific to leisure scholars in the United States, was undertaken by the authors of this critical review. Results from this study indicated that leisure scholars who are also mothers experience a great deal of pressure to be productive educators and researchers. This stems from unrealistic work expectations, unsupportive colleagues, and workplace policies that are difficult to navigate. The impacts of these are exacerbated by the pandemic conditions caused by COVID-19 due to existing patriarchal structures in academia. Community mitigation efforts result in working mothers balancing multiple full-time responsibilities, including providing childcare and education for their children while struggling to complete their paid work. We asked our previous research participants to share how their work and family experiences have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic conditions, specifically as it relates to performing simultaneously as both primary childcare providers and faculty members at their institutions. While necessary to address a global health emergency, transitioning to remote work has increased employment expectations for mothers employed in higher education. Leisure scientists reported that telecommuting has led to an unideal merger of their personal and professional spaces, disrupting any harmony that these mothers were working so tirelessly to achieve. Leaders in higher education must address this misguided “hurry up model” and lack of concern for their employees as both scholars and human beings that need leisure to ensure quality of life and wellbeing.


Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services

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Leisure Sciences