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Dr. Jennifer Deitloff, associate professor of biology at LHU, teaches courses on vertebrate animals and studies ecology and evolutionary biology of amphibians and reptiles. She was recently part of a working group of academic women who created a list of solutions for ensuring gender equity in the wake of COVID-19

Lock Haven -- Dr. Jennifer Deitloff, associate professor of biology at Lock Haven University, was a member of a working group of academic women who, with lead writer Jessica L. Malisch of St. Mary's College, created a list of solutions for ensuring gender equity in the wake of COVID-19.

Fourteen women academics from diverse backgrounds and academic experiences authored the paper, which was recently published.

“What is unique about our piece compared to many that are being published right now is that we suggest strategies for universities and administrators to work toward gender equity, instead of gender-neutral strategies, which often help men but not women,” Deitloff said.

One major challenge following COVID-19 is that in times of stress and financial uncertainty, “Biased decision-making processes are favored, which threaten to deprioritize equity initiatives,” according to the authors.

Research demonstrates that women face barriers among all three areas of academic evaluation: teaching, service, and research. The academic environment during the current pandemic will further widen the gap in recognition and success of women, and increase economic disparities.

Bias and inequity affect other marginalized groups as well and disparities are significantly greater for women of color.

“The solutions in our paper will also positively promote equity of other marginalized groups and academics impacted by COVID-19,” Deitloff said. “During this time, we need to strive for equity for faculty of color, LGBTQ faculty, and faculty of differing abilities.”

Some of the solutions include acknowledging any disparities among demographic groups of faculty, implementation of a strategic action plan for dealing with impacts to faculty productivity that differ among genders, specific guidelines from administration, and promotion/tenure committees on how to quantify impacts of COVID-19 and actionable solutions to ensure diversity in the future.

More solutions and additional supporting documentation for equity in academics are included in the full article, available for viewing at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America here and its companion website.