Exploring Female Academics’ Resiliency During the Pandemic

Bissessar, Charmaine; McCauley, Kate and Phillips, Elly. 2023. Exploring Female Academics’ Resiliency During the Pandemic. In: Charmaine Bissessar, ed. Female Academics' Resilience during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Intercultural Perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, pp. 3-25. ISBN 9783031341397 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Academics in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) faced difficulties during the pandemic when moving from face-to-face instruction to online learning and teaching platforms. In particular, female academics were challenged to find unique and innovative methods of merging their professional responsibilities with personal commitments amid COVID-19 restrictions. In response to Harris’s (2022) endorsement of the fact that resiliency could be part of the solution in future-proofing education systems, three female academics from different geographical locations question how they maintained their personal and professional resiliency, and how their resiliency compared before and after the pandemic. This collaborative autoethnographic study was based on an epistemological interpretivist paradigm and used in vivo and descriptive coding to place the researchers’ narratives into themes and sub-themes including personal issues of blurred work boundaries, isolation from friends and family, concern for others’ health and the sacrifice of family time. Professional themes included ‘compassion fatigue’ when meeting students’ needs, demands such as ‘mothering’ academics, and a desire for socialisation. It was found that resiliency was maintained both personally and professionally, but as a process rather than being measured in binary terms. Interestingly, it was strengthened when participants cultivated optimistic attitudes whilst taking the opportunity to ‘nest’ and practice ‘self-care’ leading each participant to be more resilient after the pandemic, than before. Strategies are suggested for future- proofing female academics’ resiliency as they transition to the new post-pandemic normal. Whilst research is available about how to maintain personal self-care and professional development, this study is unique as it identifies the benefits of professional self-care. Moreover, as an autoethnographic study, the findings speak for female academics whose voices are normally heard as researchers, but are not researched themselves.

Item Type:

Book Section

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Personal resilience, Professional resilience, Collaborative autoethnography, Mothering academics, Compassion fatigue

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


24 June 2023Accepted
25 June 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

25 Sep 2023 08:50

Last Modified:

03 Oct 2023 07:48



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