NEWS12 June 2020

Women under-represented in Covid-19 research authorship

Covid-19 News People Trends UK

UK – A lack of women in research authorship means that gender-specific understandings of the Covid-19 pandemic risk being missed, according to research from the University of Oxford.


The university’s George Institute for Global Health found that women accounted for only a third of all authors of research papers related to Covid-19 published since January 2020.

This fell to 29% for first authors and 26% for last authors – the two most senior positions in the writing and publication of research papers.

The gender disparity in Covid-19 research mirrors general inequalities in research paper authorship more generally, according to the study.

Researchers warned this might mean that gendered issues relating to the current pandemic could be missed because of the inequalities in research authorship.

The voluntary disclosure of gender as part of the submission of papers to scientific journals could be one solution to the issue of underrepresentation of women to allow these inequalities to be adequately monitored and encourage equality in authorship, according to the researchers on the study.

Dr Ana-Catarina Pinho-Gomes of the George Institute UK, who led the analysis, said there were many possible reasons for women’s underrepresentation in Covid-19 research.

“For instance, women may have less time to commit to research during the pandemic, they may also be denied access to Covid-19 research owing to its anticipated high impact, and such research may also be considered the realm of those in leadership positions, which remain most commonly held by men,” she said.