From a Nature Article:
Quarantined with a six-year-old child underfoot, Megan Frederickson wondered how academics were managing to write papers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns implemented to stem coronavirus spread meant that, overnight, many households worldwide had become an intersection of work, school and home life. Conversations on Twitter seemed to confirm Frederickson’s suspicions about the consequences: female academics, taking up increased childcare responsibilities, were falling behind their male peers at work.
But Frederickson, an ecologist at the University of Toronto, Canada, wanted to see what the data said. So, she looked at preprint servers to investigate whether women were posting fewer studies than they were before lockdowns began. The analysis — and several others — suggests that, across disciplines, women’s publishing rate has fallen relative to men’s amid the pandemic.
The results are consistent with the literature on the division of childcare between men and women, says Molly King, a sociologist at Santa Clara University in California.
Other researchers are finding similar trends. Cassidy Sugimoto, an information scientist at Indiana University Bloomington who studies gender disparities in research, conducted a separate analysis of author gender on nine popular preprint servers. Methodological differences meant that the two analyses are not directly comparable, but Frederickson’s work “converges with what we’re seeing”, says Sugimoto.
Sugimoto points out that that preprints being published even now probably rely on labour that was performed many months ago. “The scientific publication process doesn’t lend itself to timely analyses,” she says. So her study also included databases that log registered reports, which indicate the initiation of new research projects.