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The effects of Covid-19 on the gender gap in academic research productivity

The rapid spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the subsequent counter-measures, such as school closures, shift to working from home, and social distancing are disrupting economic activity around the world. As with other major economic shocks, there will likely be winners and losers, leading to increased inequality across certain groups. In this project, we investigate the effects of Covid-19 on the gender gap in productivity among academics. First, we track the patterns of publications and working paper series submissions of male and female authors before and after Covid-19, performing a simple difference-in-difference analysis to see whether the trends diverge after Covid-19. Second, we conduct a broad survey of academics across various disciplines to collect more nuanced data on the respondents’ circumstances, such as spouse employment, the number and age of children, and time use. We hypothesize that female academics, particularly those who have young children, will experience a disproportionate reduction in productivity as measured by working papers and publications relative to comparable men and women without children. This project constitutes an important contribution to the study of the far-reaching impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Still more importantly, it has the potential to put a spotlight on the fragility of our societal institutions whose collapse may wipe out decades of progress made toward gender equality. Our findings will also have important policy implications. For example, some academic institutions are offering generous tenure clock extensions due to Covid-19, and our research would shed light on the winners and losers of that policy.

Lead investigator:

Tatyana Deryugina


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Primary topic:

Families & households

Secondary topic:

Inequality & poverty

Region of data collection:


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection


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