Lockdowns Rein in Female Economists While Men Keep Working

Female economists, who have long faced an uphill battle to influence academia and policy making, now face an additional challenge amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The struggles of working from home for economists during lockdown appear to disproportionately affect output from women, Wellesley College professor Olga Shurchkov said in ablog post published on Medium.

Her research mirrorsbroader evidence that professional women are shouldering the brunt of the disruption as children are forced to stay home and care options are limited.

Together with researchers Tatyana Deryugina from University of Illinois and Jenna Stearns from University of California, Davis, Shurchkov analyzed more than 10,000 pre-print and working paper series in economics for 2018-2020.

Their findings suggested that female authorship dropped more than 12% in March and 20% in April from usual levels, even as overall submissions remained broadly stable.

Given that those papers had probably been in the pipeline for a while, the drop in female productivity may be even greater in May, Shurchkov said.

Possible explanations include that male academics arefour times more likely to have a stay-at-home partner, and female academics with children spendconsiderably more time on caregiving activities.

“Gender inequality among academics is important,” Shurchkov wrote. It “shapes what is taught in the classroom, what research questions are asked, and how policy discussions are framed.”

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