"Stressing the system" – The impact of Covid 19 on the life and work of women in science

March 5th, 15:30-16:00

Research laboratories are a specific work universe, which diverges from other working environments by several features. It combines the characteristics related to the science practices with a very competitive labor system, in which precariousness concerns the majority of working persons.

In this particular world, researchers struggle with the unknown, looking for the original solutions, asking new questions, thinking outside the boxes, and inventing new theories (at least, this is expected in a basic science laboratory). They compete with other researchers, with colleagues, with themselves. The internationalized environment imposes constant geographic mobility. The ordinary life is in emergency mode - the permanent race, in which only the first seems to be the winner, is a "natural" environment of each researcher. 

The expectations and ambitions alike are high, addressed challenges - impossible. The pressure is omnipresent and permanent. In this system in which people work 24/7, suddenly, pandemic has imposed fundamental changes. 

The presentation is aimed to provide the elments of answers to following questions: 

What happens when the system is stopped or slow down? How do researchers deal in this new context? Are they equal in front of newly imposed limitations? And foremost - what is the situation of women in these dark times in which health and familily seem to recover their high place on the list of vital values. In other words - how the pandemic impacts the work and life of women-researchers?

Dr. Izabela Wagner

Associated Professor and Researcher at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland; DynamE - Dynamiques Européennes (Strasbourg University, France) and Institut Convergences Migrations (ICM Paris, France)

1. Associated Professor of Sociology at Collegium Civitas - Warsaw/Poland
2.  Associated Researcher in  DynamE -  Dynamiques Européennes (L’UMR7367 - CNRS - Université de Strasbourg)
3.  Fellow ICM PARIS at the Institut Convergence Migration

Izabela Wagner is a sociologist - ethnographer. From 2003 to 2016 she conducted ethnographic studies in life-science laboratories in France, Poland, USA, as well as in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, focusing on the careers of researchers and their international mobility. Wagner is the author of several articles devoted to the life of scientists, as well as engaged (public sociology) papers about the working conditions  of scientists and academics. In 2011 she published a book “Becoming Transnational Professional. Kariery i mobilność polskich elit naukowych.” (Scholar, 2011). She is also the author of “Producing Excellence. Making of a Virtuoso” (Rutgers UP, 2015) and the first comprehensive biography of Zygmunt Bauman - “Bauman: a Biography” (Polity, 2020) 

Wagner lives and works in Sardinia (in the middle of the island in an isolated farm with 2 horses, 5 dogs, 4 cats and chicken).  


International Institute of Molecular and
Cell Biology in Warsaw

4 Ks. Trojdena Street
02 - 109 Warsaw, Poland

tel. (+48 22) 597 07 00
fax (+48 22) 597 07 15


The symposium is funded by the "Excellent science" programme of the Ministry of Education and Science (formerly Ministry of Science and Higher Education).