Gender Gap in Authorship of Medical Research Widened During Early Stages of the Global Pandemic

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, the University of Michigan, and two academic institutions in Denmark have produced a study that shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has exaggerated the gender gap in medical research productivity.

Researchers examined the authorship of 15,839 articles on COVID-19 published in leading medical journals between January 1, 2020, and June 5, 2020. They compared these results to the authorship of 85,373 papers published in the same journals in 2019.

The results show that women constitute a lower share of first authors of articles on COVID-19, as compared to the proportion of women among first authors of all articles published in the same journals the previous year. Specifically, the authors estimated that the proportion of COVID-19 papers with a woman first author was 19 percent lower than that for papers published in the same journals in 2019.

The authors found that women’s representation as first authors of COVID-19 research was particularly low for papers published in March and April 2020.

“Our findings are consistent with the idea that restricted access to child-care and increased work-related service demands might have taken the greatest toll on early-career women, particularly early on when the disruptions were most unexpected,” the authors conclude. “The research productivity of women, especially early-career women, has been affected more than the research productivity of men” during the pandemic.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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