Flaminio Squazzoni 1 , Giangiacomo Bravo 2 3 , Francisco Grimaldo 4 , Daniel García-Costa 4 , Mike Farjam 5 , Bahar Mehmani 6

1 Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
2 Centre for Data Intensive Sciences and Applications, Växjö, Sweden.
3 Department of Social Studies, Växjö, Sweden.
4 Department of Computer Science, University of Valencia, Burjassot, Spain.
5 European Studies, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
6 STM Journals, Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

PLoS One. 2021 Oct 20;16(10):e0257919.


During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an unusually high submission rate of scholarly articles. Given that most academics were forced to work from home, the competing demands for familial duties may have penalized the scientific productivity of women. To test this hypothesis, we looked at submitted manuscripts and peer review activities for all Elsevier journals between February and May 2018-2020, including data on over 5 million authors and referees. Results showed that during the first wave of the pandemic, women submitted proportionally fewer manuscripts than men. This deficit was especially pronounced among more junior cohorts of women academics. The rate of the peer-review invitation acceptance showed a less pronounced gender pattern with women taking on a greater service responsibility for journals, except for health & medicine, the field where the impact of COVID-19 research has been more prominent. Our findings suggest that the first wave of the pandemic has created potentially cumulative advantages for men.