DOI: 10.1177/22779779231209374 ISSN: 2277-9779

The Rigmarole of Negotiating Double Binds: A Qualitative Study of Indian Women Academics’ Work-from-home Routines in COVID-19 Times

Merlin Mythili Nelson, Bhawna Agarwal
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Business and International Management

This study explores how Indian women academics navigated the responsibilities of home, care and paid academic work during the COVID-19 pandemic through the intersectional lens of gendered family role identity and work–home boundary theory. Using a qualitative interpretivist approach and thematic analysis, 30 women academics were interviewed on their work-from-home experiences. The findings show that women struggled to negotiate the increased work–family conflict due to reinforced gendered family role expectations and increasing invasion of work into home space. The study reveals the double bind whereby women are caught wanting to excel both at work and home. Flexible work options may not help Indian working women to achieve work–family balance due to the continued devaluing of care work and the subservient social status of women within the Indian family structure. Despite educational upliftment and financial independence, gender remains at the bottom of the intersectionality of various types of inequalities that affect Indian women academics.

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