Gend Work Organ. 2022 May 25:10.1111/gwao.12871. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12871. Online ahead of print.
In this paper, we challenge the meanings of work that marginalize academic activities associated with care and contribute to inequitable gender divisions of academic labor. We argue that the pandemic crisis and the revision of the meaning of “essential work” that accompanied it has served as a catalyst for such concerns to get a hearing. But while there has been significant attention paid to domestic care demands and their impact on academic labor, there is less focus on the caretaking work we do in the university even though the gender unequal distribution of teaching, mentoring and service work has also intensified in the pandemic. We argue that this is in part due to the institutional discourses and practices that continue to devalue many components of everyday academic labor. In order to challenge these limits, we extend ideas from Feminist political economy (FPE) to university settings in order to reframe academic labor and revalue care as an essential part of it. We offer two suggestions, connected to FPE methodologies, for gathering and reconceptualizing data on academic work to push the project forward. We conclude with the argument that this project of revaluing caring labor is essential for achieving goals of equity, faculty well-being, and the sustainability of universities.