The COVID-19 epidemic affected individuals all over the world, health-wise, socially, and economically well-be, with women bearing much of this burden. Since they make up over 70% of the medical workforce, women are mostly in charge of leading the health response teams, putting them at a higher risk for infection.
At the same time, women are disproportionately bearing the load at home as a result of school and childcare cutbacks, as well as historical gender gaps in volunteer work.
Compared to men, women are more exposed to dangers that come with Covid-19 emergencies and times of quarantine; they are also at a high risk of losing their jobs and sources of income (Dahlberg & Higginbotham,2021).
This article is going to look into the effect of the pandemic on women in Academic Medicine; how it affects their work and household activities. However, one group particularly vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 is women in academic medicine.
This article will explore how Covid-19 could potentially affect women in academic medicine and what measures institutions can take to protect this population.
The healthcare industry was the one most adversely affected immediately after the outbreak. In this scenario, research shows that women were the most affected because they make up 70% of the response teams.
Every doctor was under pressure, overworked, and had to rearrange their schedules frequently (Matulevicius, Kho, Reisch, & Yin, 2021). Both their personal and professional lives were significantly impacted by the pandemic.
Domestic duties and childcare requirements increased during the pandemic. The pressure on parents had been great as a result of the closure of the schools and the children attending online or virtual schooling at home.
Due to the epidemic, many doctors were unable to do their duties remotely since they had to be physically there to care for patients. Mothers frequently took up the responsibility of childcare during school closures.
This made physician moms’ burdens and effects worse. The epidemic had a profound emotional impact on kids as well. This made it necessary for female doctors to simultaneously fulfill the roles of chief therapists as well as mothers, teachers, spouses, and cooks.
As if this weren’t enough, female doctors had to be very careful not to expose their families to COVID. Married female physicians were forced to depend more on their partners for childcare, which strained and caused conflict in their marriages.
Additionally, the effect on women from the pandemic is severe because they make up the largest percentage when it comes to fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
Women usually perform most of the voluntary domestic caregiving duties, are overrepresented in the healthcare sector, are at a high risk of experiencing economic insecurity both now and in the future, and are more likely to experience violence, exploitation, abuse, or harassment when there is an emergency or a quarantine.
The pandemic has affected the health and well-being of vulnerable groups of people like women and old folks and will still be significantly impacted. Women are among those who are most negatively impacted.
According to preliminary studies, COVID-19 seems to affect males more severely than women from a medical standpoint. The mortality risk for males with COVID-19 is 60–80% greater than for women. However, the pandemic’s effects on women are deteriorating as COVID-19 spreads around the globe.
Because they form nearly up to 70% of the health sector; on the other hand when it comes to leadership and corporate roles women are underrepresented and are underrepresented. Women are spearheading the battle against this pandemic. They run a greater risk of getting sick as a result.
In addition, because gender inequality persists in many areas, women may be more exposed than males to the expected widespread economic effects of the crisis in terms of employment, businesses, income, and overall living standards.
More older women than any other category of seniors live alone on low incomes globally, which increases their risk of financial instability.
Women’s Caring Responsibilities At Work
The COVID-19 healthcare response has a disproportionately positive impact on women.
While women are underrepresented globally in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, they account for around 85% of nurses and midwives in the 104 countries shown in the graph below.
Approximately two-thirds of the worldwide health workforce are women.
Figure 1: Distribution of the long-term care workforce, by sex, 2016 or nearest year
Source: OECD (2020), Who Cares? Attracting and Retaining Care Workers for the Elderly, OECD Health Policy Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/92c0ef68-en.
Nearly half of doctors in OECD nations are now female. Additionally, women account for slightly over 90% of the long-term care workforce on average among OECD nations according to the data in figure 1.
Despite the fact that women make up the majority of the healthcare workforce, they are still underrepresented in senior or leadership roles (Heggeness, 2020).
Women’s Caring Responsibilities at Home
In addition to being overrepresented in the care industry, women also perform the majority of voluntary labor at home. Women consistently devote around two hours more per day to unpaid labor than men do across the OECD countries, at slightly over four hours per day on average.
These countries still adhere to traditional gender roles. In developing and emerging economies, gender gaps in voluntary work are frequently higher.
Family care takes up a large part of women’s voluntary work time. In OECD nations, women devote an average of slightly more than 35 minutes per day to childcare activities, which is more than double the time males devote to childcare activities (15 minutes).
However, a lot of women also take care of their parents and other adult relatives while they are working. According to data from OECD countries in Europe, employed women are 50% more likely to report regularly caring for sick, disabled, or elderly adult relatives than employed men (Brubaker, 2020).
This data, which ignores the efforts of those without jobs and exhibits wide variation, may be due to high rates of part-time employment in some nations (such as the Netherlands and Switzerland), as well as the scope of public social service programs.
Governments should come up with policy responses that take women’s concerns into account in the health sector.
Also, governments should consider acting right in a way to help parents in carrying out their duties at home, and career tasks, bolstering and expanding income support programs, and increasing support for micro-businesses and the self-employed.
Fundamentally, gender considerations and the specific needs, duties, and perspectives of women must be included in all policy solutions to the crisis.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota
Brubaker L. (2020). Women Physicians and the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA, 324(9), 835–836. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2020.14797
Heggeness M. L. (2020). Estimating the immediate impact of the COVID-19 shock on parental attachment to the labor market and the double bind of mothers. Review of economics of the household, 18(4), 1053–1078. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11150-020-09514-x
Matulevicius, S. A., Kho, K. A., Reisch, J., & Yin, H. (2021). Academic Medicine Faculty Perceptions of Work-Life Balance Before and Since the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA network open, 4(6), e2113539.https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.13539
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Policy and Global Affairs; Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; Committee on Investigating the Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Dahlberg, M. L., & Higginbotham, E. (Eds.). (2021). The Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. National Academies Press (US).