Study reveals pandemic-induced gender gap in journal submissions 

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A recent study has found that the first wave of the pandemic created a gender disparity in journal publishing, with fewer women authoring peer-reviewed papers. 

The pandemic spurred research, with over 125,000 COVID-19-related papers being published in the 10 months after March 2020. However, given worldwide lockdown orders and employees retreating to their homes, more researchers began to take on caregiving roles and domestic tasks and struggled to balance them with work. The authors of the paper hypothesized that this hit women harder than men.

The authors of the study obtained manuscript and peer-review data from Elsevier during the early months of the pandemic to analyze its effect on female researchers. The dataset included information from manuscripts and reviews of 2,329 Elsevier journals between January 2018 and May 2020 and included around 5 million academics. 

The data suggests that women submitted fewer manuscripts than men, especially in the health and medicine field in which academic production actually increased. This suggests that the pandemic reinforced existing inequality in research and strengthened barriers for women. They also found that junior cohorts of women, the ones who are competing for promotions and grants without the protection of tenure, were penalized the most. 

The authors suggest that funding bodies and hiring and promotion committees reconsider policies to account for these exceptional times. Creating a family-friendly leadership policy and a more equitable environment may help moderate disparities caused by the pandemic.


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