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(en) Poland, The Employee Initiative intervenes in the situation of research workers with children during the pandemic [machine translation]

Date Mon, 17 May 2021 12:52:55 +0300

Closed nurseries, kindergartens and schools. Closed after-school clubs. Closed canteens. Children who were previously taken care of during the day by teachers, day care teachers and cooks, had to be looked after by someone else during the lockdown. The pandemic placed an additional burden on women: caring work that had to be provided at the same time as professional work. This, however, did not reduce the pressure on efficiency. Employees are still held accountable for the achieved results as if they did not take on an additional job during the pandemic, i.e. childcare. ---- This topic was addressed by the members of the Employee Initiative committee operating at the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. They appealed to the minister of science to take into account the situation of people working in science and caring for young children when their work is accounted for by research units, during the settlement of grants and in the process of applying for new grants, and when evaluating the work of research units employing them. A letter was sent to the minister, signed by over 1,600 people.

After a series of neoliberal reforms, each university must demonstrate the appropriate number of points earned for publication in books and scientific journals. The Ministry of Education and Science accounts for universities, and universities account for employees and female employees; Evaluation results are driven not only by prestige, but also by funding of the university and the professional future of the employee or employees. This "punctuation" was criticized for many reasons, but the pandemic revealed another anti-worker aspect. If someone was looking after young children, they could spend much less time researching and writing articles during the lockdown. The effects of this became apparent at the beginning of the pandemic. People who looked after young children and therefore had more household duties and less time for academic work, they wrote fewer texts and submitted fewer grant applications than before the outbreak of the pandemic. Interestingly, it mainly hit women - men, even with small children, had statistically the same amount of time for work as before. Why? It's simple: their mothers took care of the children. This phenomenon is called "maternity punishment" and is due to the unequal distribution of caring work. Men benefit from it (even if they have children, they are considered more stable and, for example, deserving a promotion or a raise), but it is primarily benefited by the capitalist economy, which does not have to take into account the costs of care work. Women do it for free, and if, as in a pandemic, they cannot work full-time because of it, they simply earn less and get promoted more slowly.

However, the problem affects not only research workers, but all people who were burdened with additional care work during the pandemic, regardless of the industry in which they are employed. After lockdowns, they are finished and deprived of the possibility of rest, because they often used their leaves to take care of children, and they also have a worse position on the labor market, where only full availability is highly valued. This is discrimination. The Employee Initiative will deal with this issue. Caring work cannot be left only on women's shoulders, nor can women be punished for taking care of it.

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