During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers — particularly mothers of small children — have lost research time, likely due to increased childcare duties, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
It adds that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Tatyana Deryugina, Wellesley College's Olga Shurchkov, and Jenna Stearns from the University of California, Davis, conducted a survey in which they asked nearly 20,000 academic researchers how the pandemic affected their research time.
As they write in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, the investigators found that all respondents with children experienced a decline in research hours since the onset of the pandemic, but that mothers experienced a greater decline. In particular, they report that researchers lost an average one hour of research time per day, as compared to pre-pandemic levels. Men without children lost about 25 minutes a day of research time, while women with children lost an hour more of research time. Having children under the age of 7 years was especially linked to time lost, they found.
The trio notes in their paper that they probably underestimated the research time lost, as those who were particularly overburdened likely did not respond to the survey.
An analysis published in May 2020 likewise found that female researchers weren't publishing at the same rate as male researchers during the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, also likely stemming from increased childcare burdens.