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Equality, diversity and inclusion

Less women in scientific production, a reality of the COVID-19 lockdown


A study promoted by the "Women in Science" working group of the Can Ruti Campus, has shown that, from July to October 2020, scientific production was more linked to men. Women, on the other hand, developed a greater number of scientific activities perceived as altruistic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world implemented a variety of containment measures, including lockdown and mobility restrictions. These measures succeeded in slowing the progression of this disease, but they also had a social and economic impact, increasing inequalities, such as the gender gap. Wanting to quantify these differences between men and women in the field of biomedical research, the working group "Women in Science" of the Can Ruti Campus published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal a study conducted jointly by the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute, the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP), the Fight Infections Foundation, the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), the Centre for Epidemiological Studies on Sexually Transmitted Infections and AIDS of Catalonia (CEEISCAT), the Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). The article highlights how, during the pandemic, activities related to scientific production have been mainly carried out by men.

The study involved the participation of 147 people from the Can Ruti Campus –80% women, 20% men– and was carried out by conducting surveys during the months of July to October 2020. Based on the results obtained, the working group states the need to reverse this situation by increasing female representation in scientific production and highlighting the value of other scientific tasks that are less recognized and performed mainly by women.


Less scientific production and more outreach activities for women

Through the results of the surveys, the study analyses the scientific production, unpaid academic activities and mental health of 147 scientists on campus.

"The results show that, during the months from July to October 2020, when the mobility restriction measures were still in force, female scientists on campus submitted a lower number of articles to scientific journals, applied for fewer grants and appeared less as lead authors of published articles compared to men," explains Nuria Izquierdo-Useros, principal investigator at IrsiCaixa and member of the "Women in Science" working group at the Can Ruti Campus.

"On the other hand, the study shows that, in this period of time, unrecognized academic activities, such as educational outreach and conducting reviews, are tasks that have been more linked to women than to men," says Miguel Marín López, predoctoral researcher at IrsiCaixa and member of the working group.

If the results are compared between men and women with dependents in their care, the differences are accentuated in the case of participation in outreach activities and the feeling of sadness in relation to the gender bias itself.


Enhancing the value of tasks not directly related to scientific production

"The differences observed in the study should be used by institutions to offer measures to reverse this bias. The working committee is committed to promoting the active participation of women in tasks related to the development of their scientific careers", says Julia García-Prado, principal investigator at IrsiCaixa, member of the working group and scientific director of the IGTP.

The group also defends the need to introduce changes in the current research evaluation system so that tasks perceived as altruistic –such as educational outreach activities and article review– are equally valid evaluation parameters as those related to scientific production.


"Women in Science" at the Can Ruti Campus

The "Women in Science" working group of the Can Ruti Campus promotes equity within the campus, with particular emphasis on equal opportunities for women and the consideration of the gender perspective in research. This multicentre group includes members from many of the institutions belonging to the Can Ruti Campus, located at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital in Badalona.

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