Pre-Existing Social Conditions: A Call to Prevent the Perpetuation of Gender Inequalities in Research Production during COVID-19
The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for systematic studies on our changing society and medical students are responding accordingly. However, emerging evidence indicates that there are changing patterns in research production since the initial COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, with an exponential increase in the number of manuscripts submitted to academic journals for peer review, but with women producing significantly less research compared to men. In an effort to contemplate what academic journals’ responsibilities are to counteract these trends among medical students, we consider three “pre-existing social conditions” that have the potential to negatively affect female medical students’ careers long-term: 1) the unequal division of labor both at home and work; 2) women’s lower well-being compared to men’s; and 3) men’s greater representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. As a society, we need to offset these trends that threaten women’s careers, as we are at risk of reversing the diligent work achieved to improve gender equality in the fields of science and medicine. While “pre-existing conditions”—the social, economic, political, and historical forces discussed here— have led to, and exacerbated, gender disparities in research production during the pandemic, The International Journal of Medical Students (IJMS) is committed to acknowledging these gender inequalities and preventing their perpetuation among the next generation of future doctors and physician-scientists.
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