The Young Academy and the Dutch Network of Women Professors, acting in cooperation with the Universities of the Netherlands (VSNU | UNL), have studied the impact of the first lockdown on the work and wellbeing of academics in the Netherlands and present various recommendations for how best to mitigate any adverse consequences.
The results of the first sector-wide survey show that academics in all job categories saw a significant reduction in the time they were able to spend on research. Researchers with care responsibilities saw the biggest reduction in their time for research. Early-career researchers with young children at home also had significantly fewer opportunities to apply for research grants. Female researchers with young children encountered the biggest problems trying to reconcile their work and child care responsibilities. They report higher stress levels than any other groups regarding their research progress and concern about their future in academia. Strikingly, these women are in more precarious positions than their male counterparts with young children; they tend to be at a slightly earlier stage in their careers and are more likely to have a temporary appointment.
The recommendations can be summarised as follows. 1. Prevent brain drain by investing in talent retention; 2. Adapt criteria for promotion and career development. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach; instead, opt for personalized solutions and clear communication; 3. Support leadership development and promote leadership by recognizing and rewarding it more explicitly as part of a researcher’s work; 4. Continue to monitor and study the consequences of the pandemic systematically and be aware of differences in the nature and impact of these consequences, particularly on vulnerable groups.