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Preprints During Lockdown

Initial analyses indicates that female researchers aren't publishing at the same rate as male researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nature News reports.

It adds that lockdowns in many areas of the world have kept people at home, leading them to have to juggle work and family life in new ways, leading the University of Toronto's Megan Frederickson to wonder whether these changes in responsibilities affected male and female researchers' productivity in similar ways. Frederickson compared the genders of authors with papers posted to ArXiv and BioRxiv between March and April of 2019 and March and April of 2020, using the US Social Security Administration baby names database to gauge, with limitations, gender from authors' names. 

As Nature News notes, Frederickson found that though the number of female authors increased between 2019 and 2020, the number of male authors increased to a greater extent. This, it adds, is in line with findings from other early analyses by researchers at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Montreal. The researchers tell Nature News that they suspect that this decline in academic productivity could be due to increased childcare responsibilities falling disproportionately on women as well as the demands of online teaching affecting women more as they tend to have greater teaching responsibilities than their male counterparts.