Alumni Relations Hosts Panel Focused on COVID-19’s Impact on Mothers

Jennie Weiner
Jennie Weiner, an associate professor of educational leadership at the Neag School, moderated a recent UConn alumni panel focused on struggles that mothers are facing amid the pandemic. (Photo source: Neag School)

Editor’s Note: The following story originally appeared on The Daily Campus, the University of Connecticut’s student newspaper.

The pandemic has presented a variety of different challenges, many of which are exhausting to cope with. The University of Connecticut’s Alumni Relations center hosted a panel titled “Not Burnout, Betrayal: The Pandemic’s Impact on Working Mothers” last month. Panelists, along with an array of other women, discussed various struggles that mothers are facing today.

Jennie Weiner, an associate professor of educational leadership at UConn’s Neag School of Education, moderated the panel, providing an insightful discussion and asking riveting questions. Audience members were free to type in the chat any of their own personal thoughts and contributions. The two other panelists were Rupal Parekh, an assistant professor of social work at UConn, and Donna Haghighat, chief executive office of the Women’s Fund.

This pandemic has been taxing for everyone. Anxiety is heightened and we’re all facing unprecedented challenges. For mothers, not only do they have to take care of their children, but many have also accepted the burden of their relative’s health.

“For mothers, not only do they have to take care of their children, but many have also accepted the burden of their relative’s health.”

Donna Haghighat, CEO of Women’s Fund

“Women are even taking on the burden of making sure that older relatives in the family are getting their vaccines,” said Haghighat. “They’re the ones spending hours trying to find vaccine slots and taking them to their appointments.”

She explains that even in her own family, during the beginning of the pandemic she would have to be aware of what her older relatives were doing and if it was safe under COVID-19 guidelines.

There are factors in the corporate world that stem from the patriarchal background of society. As we know, females and males do not make the same amount of money in the workforce, even if the job is identical. Thus, when someone needs to leave their job, it’s often the female.

Parekh just became a mother a few weeks into the pandemic and was immediately thrown into an unfamiliar environment. She was no longer able to connect with fellow peers and friends.

“Since I became a new mother during the pandemic, I didn’t have the community because all of the sudden I was in a pandemic, and I never really realized how much I wanted to talk to new mothers and have that sense of community,” she said.

Parekh explains that since the pandemic, an additional three hours of household and childcare work have been added to a mother’s plate, which is essentially an equivalent amount of time to a part time job.

This burden can get heavy to carry, especially if it’s being carried alone. Several audience members expressed concern about the dynamic between themselves and their partner; their significant other may not always be able to understand because they do not carry the burden, and thus do not relate.

On top of carrying for children and steering clear of sickness, individuals also had to go through the loss of jobs and other monumental life moments, all while dealing with a pandemic. A financial burden is also another component of the cake that may become overwhelming.

Through these moments, it’s important to build a community so that females can bond and discuss their experiences together. While it may be difficult to go through it alone, it always helps to know other peers are going through the same thing.