Data | Women researchers had fewer opportunities for research due to family obligations and care-giving duties

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Between January and May 2020, there was an explosion in the number of scholarly articles submitted to journals, which was partly driven by COVID-19-related research. A study of manuscripts submitted to Elsevier journals states that women submitted considerably fewer manuscripts than men. This trend persisted even during the first wave of the pandemic despite the rise in the submission of articles. Moreover, the gap between submissions by men and women across areas of research was more pronounced for the younger cohort, suggesting that young women researchers had fewer opportunities for research due to family obligations and caregiving duties.

This hypothesis — that domestic work and caregiving duties have been delegated to women, affecting their productivity — holds true for Indian women in general if the Time Use Surveys by the National Statistical Organisation are considered. A majority of Indian women were engaged in unpaid domestic work, while men participated in employment-related activities.

Gender divide

The chart shows the number of manuscripts submitted to all Elsevier journals by men and women between February 2018 to May 2020. There was a rapid increase in submissions during the first wave of the pandemic, partly propelled by a flurry in COVID-19 related research. While the number of manuscripts submitted by men have always been higher than those by women, the urgency of the pandemic did not reduce the gap between submissions by men and women.


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Wide gap

The chart shows the average change in submissions from Feb to May 2020 compared to the average number of submissions during the same period in 2018 and 2019 across various research areas. The sample was divided into two age cohorts, < or > 20 years after receiving their MD/Ph.D. title. There is a wide gap in the change in submissions by men and women of the younger cohort across all four research areas, while the difference is relatively lesser in the senior cohort. This suggests that women especially of the younger cohort had comparatively fewer opportunities for research and publication.


Domestic labour

The chart shows the share of men and women aged 15-59 engaged in unpaid domestic work across the States in India. More than 90% of women on average, participated in domestic work compared to 27% of men.