Female scientists lag behind due to coronavirus crisis

The demand for new scientific knowledge has grown enormously during the corona crisis, but the pandemic is negatively affecting the productivity of women compared to that of male colleagues. A possible cause for the difference between male and female scientists is an uneven distribution of care tasks during the lockdown. This is shown in a new study by Elsevier publishers.

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Elsevier’s more than 2,000 scientific journals received 58 percent more manuscripts from scientists between February and May than in the same period in previous years. For areas such as health and medicine, the increase is as high as 92 percent.

But men supplied considerably more articles than women. This has negative consequences for female academics, says Bahar Mehmani, Reviewer Experience Lead at Elsevier and one of the authors of the study. “In modern science, publications and citations are taken into account in future research funding and in job applications and promotions. The pandemic, therefore, influences scientific careers in the long term,” says Mehmani.

Reducing the weight of publications

According to the researchers, home care tasks are probably more traditionally divided during the lockdown. “It has long been known that female scientists struggle more often during their careers with the balance between care and work tasks. The pandemic seems to reinforce that,” says Mehmani.

The study’s researchers ask research funders and selection committees to take the effects of the pandemic on the careers of scientists into account. For example, they suggest that publications during the pandemic should be given less weight in funding and job applications.

Translated by Language Center, Riet Bettonviel

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