Inspired by feminist narrative and the Latin American tradition of testimonio, this paper is grounded in the lived experiences of the four authors as academics, mothers, and organizers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on women of color feminisms and theorizing anti-racist feminist understandings of motherhood as a political identity, we examine how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges faced by parenting and caregiving faculty, especially those positioned at the intersection of multiple structural vulnerabilities. The COVID-19 tipping point presented both unsustainable challenges for parenting and caregiving faculty and opportunities for collective support and organizing as parents and caregivers. We participated in collective organizing with other academic parents and caregivers, most of whom are mothers, as we shared our struggles and organized to respond to changing conditions. We examine the ways in which undervalued, gendered, and racialized labor in the workplace merged with unpaid gendered labor in the home, highlighting how the pandemic brought caregivers—those providing care through their undervalued paid labor and unpaid household labor—to a crisis point. We also highlight the ways in which the organizing that began around parenting and caregiving faculty, who have been disproportionately overburdened during the pandemic, was in addition to and in the context of ongoing activism around other forms of structural violence. Finally, we conclude with a call for structural change at the institutional level to address the exacerbated racialized and gendered equity gap caused by the pandemic. More broadly, we argue that the pandemic laid bare the ways in which the university, as an institution, remains based in the white, heteropatriarchal assumptions of a labor force of faculty who are not also parents and caregivers. We provide recommendations for policy change and implementation that will help create more just and equitable working conditions for parenting and caregiving faculty and call for the recognition that the end of the pandemic will not eradicate the dire needs of parenting and caregiving faculty members within a society that offers little support for carework.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.