Female researchers majorly under-represented in COVID-19 research

June 11, 2020

New research from The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford has found significant gender bias in research authorship relating to COVID-19, which means that women's views are not equally shaping the response to the pandemic.

Women are under-represented as authors of research papers in many scientific areas [1], particularly in the most senior positions of first and last author, and this research published today in BMJ Global Health finds the trend persisting in publications on COVID-19.

The research team analysed publications on COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic in January 2020 to identify the representation of women in any authorship position, and as first or last author. Overall, women represented just over one third (34%) of all authors. Only 29% of the 1,235 papers assessed by first author were women, while this was even lower for last author at just 26% (of 1,216 papers).

'Our findings on the major gender gap in research authorship on COVID-19, and in the most senior positions in particular, mirrors the under-representation of women in other areas of science research; a trend that has persisted for years,' said Dr Ana-Catarina Pinho-Gomes of The George Institute UK, who led the analysis.

'There are many possible reasons for their under-representation in COVID-19 research. For instance, women may have less time to commit to research during the pandemic [2], they may also be denied access to COVID-19 research owing to its anticipated high impact [3], and such research may also be considered the realm of those in leadership positions, which remain most commonly held by men,' Dr Pinho-Gomes highlighted.

Crucially, this under-representation of women is likely to be synonymous with an under-representation of research pertaining to gendered issues around the coronavirus, and to the availability and interrogation of sex-disaggregated data, so research insights into COVID-19 may only tell an incomplete picture of the sex and gender impacts of the pandemic.

According to the authors, one possible solution to overcome the persistently low representation of women in authorship of scientific papers, including those on COVID-19, would be to allow voluntary disclosure of gender as part of the submission of papers to scientific journals. This would allow editorial teams to monitor gender inequalities in authorship and would encourage research teams to foster equality in authorship for the benefit of women and men alike.
-end-
This analysis was supported by a COVID-19 research grant from the University of New South Wales. The research is published in BMJ Global Health.

References: [1] Author gender analysis of 1.5 million medical papers [2] Female academics juggling research and childcare [3] Access to COVID-19 research may be influenced by perceived impact

University of Oxford

Related Pandemic Articles from Brightsurf:

The COVID-19 pandemic: How US universities responded
A new George Mason University study found that the majority of university announcements occurred on the same day as the World Health Organization's pandemic declaration.

Researchers find evidence of pandemic fatigue
A new study from the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology shows that the behavioral responses to COVID-19 differed by age.

Excessive alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic
The full impact of COVID-19 on alcohol use is not yet known, but rates have been rising during the first few months of the pandemic.

How fear encourages physical distancing during pandemic
Despite guidelines plastered on the walls and floors of grocery and retail stores encouraging customers to maintain six-feet of physical distance during the pandemic, many do not.

COVID-19 pandemic and $16 trillion virus
This Viewpoint aggregates mortality, morbidity, mental health conditions, and direct economic losses to estimate the total cost of the pandemic in the US on the optimistic assumption that it will be substantially contained by the fall of 2021.

Sleep challenges during COVID-19 pandemic
How parents can help their children adjust sleep schedules, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is discussed in this Patient Page.

Changes in lung cancer treatment during COVID-19 pandemic
Changes in lung cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic were evaluated in this study.

As pandemic progressed, people's perceived risks went up
A recent study documents how personal risk assessment and protective behaviors are linked.

Hoarding and herding during the COVID-19 pandemic
Understanding the psychology behind economic decision-making, and how and why a pandemic might trigger responses such as hoarding, is the focus of a new paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy.

Understanding the psychological aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Research at SMU to understand the psychological aspects of COVID-19 points to two main areas: message framing and emotion-regulation.

Read More: Pandemic News and Pandemic Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.