A qualitative analysis of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on gender biases in an Irish University

Mohammad Hosseini*, Alicia Castillo Villanueva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on gender biases in a STEM Faculty in an Irish University. For the purposes of this research, gender bias was understood as gender-based inclinations or prejudices which affect researchers’ personal and professional opportunities as described by fifteen interviewees (nine women, six men). We used thematic interviews to explore participants’ perspectives. Analyzing interviews with an inductive approach showed that gender biases experienced before COVID-19 restrictions were different from biases during restrictions. In discussing gender biases prior to the pandemic, interviewees mentioned institutional disparities, discrimination, implicit biases, stereotypes and gender roles. When discussing gender issues during COVID restrictions, interviewees mentioned disparities at home, challenges involved in parenting, support from colleagues and the University, as well as negative and positive impacts of restrictions on existing gender issues. Our results show that while COVID-19 restrictions and the associated consequences constrained all gender groups, they most negatively affected women researchers with caring responsibilities. Moving forward, reducing gender disparities requires promoting a horizontal organizational structure, and adjusting policies and work arrangements to cater for vulnerable cohorts such as parents, and international and early-career researchers. Offering a hybrid working model that grants more flexibility to those with caring responsibilities and which accommodates personal circumstances would help improve the working conditions for all researchers and nurture an organizational culture of care for the employees; thereby also fostering gender equity and tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0288467
JournalPloS one
Volume18
Issue number9 September
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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