Covid-19 and the gendered research gap

Funder: OUCRU (Wellcome funding)

Locations of Activity: Viet Nam, Australia

Team members: Evelyne Kestelyne, Katrina Lawson, Ngo Thi Hoa, Louise Thwaites

Among the many extraordinary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic globally, has been the response in the research community, with thousands of new collaborations, projects and publications being rapidly developed and implemented. These have been supported by funding schemes, many of which have been modified or expanded. While these initiatives have led to breakthroughs in COVID-19 prevention, treatment and control, the gendered impacts on the health and medical research workforce cannot be ignored.

Early in the pandemic, transition to home working, and innovations such as online meetings were hailed as breakthroughs in research culture, addressing many of the barriers female scientists had experienced to progressing careers. However, as women still hold the majority of primary caring roles globally, the shift to working from home, coupled with school closures, left many women juggling caring and career responsibilities12. Studies conducted since early in the pandemic have demonstrated that women are underrepresented in journal submissions and publications13. How this may impact women’s long-term careers is unknown, although journal publications remain key academic outputs and prerequisites for future funding. 

The OUCRU Women in Science Group is collaborating with the George Institute in Australia, and NAFOSTED in Vietnam to explore these issues more deeply.  Initial findings from looking at publicly available data in Australia, the UK and Vietnam have shown that inequitable distribution of research funding impacts the feasibility and sustainability of women in health and medical research careers. Work needs to be done to assess and address factors contributing to this, to ensure that the gendered gaps don’t continue to widen as the pandemic progresses. 


[Internet]. Covid and Society. 2021; Available from: