Gender gap revealed in academic journal submissions in first wave of COVID-19



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Average variation in submissions by research area and age, the latter variable including the authors of the first cohort (≤ 20 years from their first publication) in the first group with older authors in the second. Bars represent standard errors. Credit: Squazzoni et al., 2021, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0 (

A study of 2,329 academic journals found that during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer manuscripts were submitted by women than by men, and this gender gap was particularly large in the field. medical and for women in the early stages of life. careers. Flaminio Squazzoni from the University of Milan, Italy, and his colleagues present these results in the open access journal PLOS ONE on October 13, 2021.

Due to its far-reaching effects on society, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unusually high number of scholarly article submissions. Meanwhile, foreclosure policies have forced academics to deal with new family responsibilities, potentially exacerbating known family challenges for women in academia. Previous studies have examined this possibility, but the results have been inconsistent.

To help clarify the impact of the pandemic on academic submissions, Squazzoni and colleagues applied statistical analyzes to submission data from 2,329 journals published by the Elsevier company. They also reviewed data on academics who were invited to review submissions as part of the peer review process. In total, the data of more than 5 million authors working between February 2018 and May 2020 were analyzed.

Researchers found that between February and May 2020, submissions to Elsevier journals increased by 30% compared to the same period in 2019. However, women submitted fewer manuscripts than men in all academic fields, including medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. This gender gap was particularly significant in the fields of health and medicine, the field most directly linked to COVID-19, and for women early in their careers.

Meanwhile, for most academic fields, similar proportions of women and men have accepted invitations to review manuscripts. However, this was not the case for health and medicine, where women were less involved.

Overall, these results suggest that the onset of the pandemic may have fostered a relatively beneficial environment for men in academia. Given the importance of publishing to the career success of academics, the authors note, the gender deficits seen in this study could potentially have long-term effects that worsen gender inequalities in academia.

Bahar Mehmani, Elsevier’s Evaluator Experiment Manager who coordinated the study, adds: “We undertook this collaboration with the research community to create a strong evidence base to investigate critical questions such as how whose lockdown measures during the pandemic had a global impact on women academics in different disciplines. It’s an integral part of our broader commitment to driving an inclusive research ecosystem. ”

Study finds gender imbalance in college submissions during pandemic

More information:
Squazzoni F, Bravo G, Grimaldo F, García-Costa D, Farjam M, Mehmani B (2021) Gender gap in journal submissions and peer review during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A study of 2329 Elsevier journals. PLoS A 16 (10): e0257919.

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Quote: Gender gap revealed in academic journal submissions in first wave COVID-19 (2021, October 20) retrieved October 20, 2021 from gap-revealed-academic-journal.html

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