Gender Inequality in Research Productivity During the COVID-19 Pandemic
30 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 12 Dec 2020
Date Written: June 9, 2020
We study the disproportionate impact of the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak on female and male academics' research productivity in social science. The lockdown has caused substantial disruptions to academic activities, requiring people to work from home. How this disruption affects productivity and the related gender equity is an important operations and societal question. We collect data from the largest open-access preprint repository for social science on 41,858 research preprints in 18 disciplines produced by 76,832 authors across 25 countries over a span of two years. We use a difference-in-differences approach leveraging the exogenous pandemic shock. Our results indicate that, in the 10 weeks after the lockdown in the United States, although total research productivity increased by 35 percent, female academics' productivity dropped by 13.2 percent relative to that of male academics. We also show that this intensified productivity gap is more pronounced for assistant professors and for academics in top-ranked universities and is found in six other countries. Our work points out the fairness issue in productivity caused by the lockdown, a finding that universities will find helpful when evaluating faculty productivity. It also helps organizations realize the potential unintended consequences that can arise from telecommuting.
Keywords: Gender inequality, research productivity, telecommuting, COVID-19
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