COVID-19 Disruptions Disproportionately Affect Female Academics
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent countermeasures, such as school closures, the shift to working from home, and social distancing are disrupting economic activity around the world. As with other major economic shocks, there are winners and losers, leading to increased inequality across certain groups. In this project, we investigate the effects of COVID-19 disruptions on the gender gap in academia. We administer a global survey to a broad range of academics across various disciplines to collect nuanced data on the respondents’ circumstances, such as a spouse’s employment, the number and ages of children, and time use. We find that female academics, particularly those who have children, report a disproportionate reduction in time dedicated to research relative to what comparable men and women without children experience. Both men and women report substantial increases in childcare and housework burdens, but women experienced significantly larger increases than men did.
We gratefully acknowledge helpful feedback from Kristin Butcher, Marina Chugunova, Pinar Keskin, G. Kartini Shastry, Olga Stoddard, and participants in the Wellesley College Economics Research Seminar, the Max Planck Innovation & Entrepreneurship Seminar, and the session “Gender Disparities: Evidence on Causes and Implications” at the 2021 ASSA meetings. Aria Novianto provided excellent research assistance. Any remaining errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.