Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation Position paper on the current COVID-19 outbreak and gendered impacts on researchers and teachers
Working Paper. This is a paper intended for a specific community of recipients. Handling and further distribution are under the sole responsibility of community members. On the 11th March 2020 the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic. Since then governments across Europe have introduced unprecedented measures in order to help slow the spread of the virus. This has led to a new and unusual way of life for millions of Europeans, which includes social distancing, self-isolation, quarantining, working from home, home-schooling children, job losses and economic hardship, and, for some, the loss of family members and friends. The COVID-19 outbreak is clearly taking a social, economic and psychological toll, and already there are the first indications of its intersectional gendered effects. Some of these have been highlighted by organisations such as the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and Nesta, and will require further research: 2 While the infection rate is similar for men and women, men have a higher mortality rate for medical as well as social reasons. There is a possibility of severe job losses in women-dominated professions, such as tourism, retail, contract cleaning, hairdressing, etc. Unpaid care work will increase, with additional caring responsibilities likely to be taken on by women. Physical distancing is not an option for everyone, particularly nurses and professional carers (who are mainly female). There is an increased risk of domestic abuse, with women in violent relationships often socially isolating with their abuser. There are indications that a permanent increase in flexible and home working arrangements will affect women and men differently. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission has published a ‘First “ERAvsCORONA” ACTION PLAN: short-term coordinated Research and Innovations actions’3 , has established a dedicated online resource for EU supported research and innovation projects and initiatives to tackle the spread of coronavirus and preparedness for other outbreaks4 and a case study on the impact of sex and gender in the COVID-19 pandemic5 . Research Funding Organisations as well as Research Performing Organisations in Member States have 1 This position paper has been drafted by the Gender and COVID-19 Task Force of SWG GRI, with Ross Woods as rapporteur and Tjasa Bericic, Jacqueline Grech, Jennifer Harper, Simona Isler, Marcela Linkova, Irene Rehmann, and Mijja Saari as members. 2 https://eige.europa.eu/news/coronavirus-puts-women-frontline https://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/there-will-be-no-back-normal/ 3 https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/research_and_innovation/resea... 4 https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/health-r... 5 Oertelt-Prigione, Sabine. 2020. The impact of sex and gender in the COVID-19 pandemic. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Available at https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/- /publication/4f419ffb-a0ca-11ea-9d2d-01aa75ed71a1/language-en. launched similar initiatives and introduced policies to address the situation. Within this broader policy context there are opportunities for research on the COVID-19 pandemic, which specifically takes into account the gender dimension. Already, funding has been awarded for research in this area at European and national level. Much of this research focuses on scientific and medical research, yet there are other research areas that merit funding, particularly from a gender perspective.