UT tenure clock extension helping women in STEM

The University of Toledo’s Provost explains the steps to help women in academia catch up after the pandemic
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 1:07 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The University of Toledo is extending its tenure clock for all junior-level faculty members.

This comes after University leaders, like UT Provest and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Karen Bjorkman noticed more female professors staying home and taking on more responsibilities of childcare and caregiving due to the pandemic.

“Separating work and home life just wasn’t possible anymore for a long time,” Bjorkman said.

With laboratories shut down, research being done to achieve tenured positions was put on hold for many in academia, especially women.

“They tended to be the caregivers, they tended to be the people who were mostly having to take care of their kids, having to take care of their elderly parents that were shut-in, and so this became a real burden,” Bjorkman explains. “Not being able to collaborate with people, not being able to get out there and share their work, not being able to work in their labs for periods of time, all of those things had real impacts on women in STEM in particular.”

Professors typically have six years to achieve tenure, allowing them to work without an annual review. To help make up for the lost time, UT made the decision early in the 2020-2021 school year to extend the clock for those on a tenure-track by one year to any professors who ask until the pandemic is behind them.

“We immediately got a flood of requests,” says Bjorkman, who said she was happy people were coming forward. “We ask our faculty to be understanding for our students, and in the same way, we have to be understanding for our faculty.

“If you were supposed to come up for tenure in two years, you could take three, and basically gave them the extra year in the hopes that when we come out the pandemic, they’d be able to then get caught up and they’d be able to be successful.”

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