Measures mitigating the effect of COVID-19

As you may have learnt in the step-by-step guide, gender equality measures should always consider the context of the organisation. This also includes the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on practices and operations. Most human organisations, research organisations and research funding bodies have been severely affected by the health, economic and policy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are constantly adapting to the current situation. Initial feedback shows that the disruption to personal lives, education, working conditions and the economy stemming from the pandemic has had implications for gender equality and the implementation of gender equality plans (GEPs). Issues that have been noted include the following:

  • a deprioritisation of gender equality objectives and measures during disruptions to education and research activities;
  • an unequal burden of additional family caring and education responsibilities falling on women that, in turn, has undermined their own work, including research and publication;
  • an unequal burden of responsibility falling on women to move delivery of teaching and pastoral support online;
  • new ways of working, including online management and collaboration, that require alertness to evolving patterns of inclusion and exclusion;
  • differential impact on staff of different seniority and contract types with potential consequences for women who are over-represented in more precarious roles;
  • the need to ensure that the sex/gender dimension is integrated in COVID-19 research in the context of a fast-paced, evolving and high-impact research environment.

Note that the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has developed a web page devoted to raising awareness on these and other challenges related to gender and COVID-19. The information made available draws on EIGE’s existing research and gender statistics to highlight the different realities that women and men could be facing in the light of the pandemic.


  • The European Commission has launched a series of webinars devoted to gender-sensitive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December 2021, it included three sessions: the first one is devoted to tackling gender-based violence in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second to gender equality aspects of work and care, and the third to gender balance in decision-making in the context of COVID-19. The webinars were delivered as part of a broader mutual learning programme, which provides access to a range of policy experimentations and solutions in relation to a gender-sensitive response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Seminars and presentations

  • They also recorded a seminar entitled ‘How COVID-19 impacted on gender equality in research and academia’.

General guidance and policies

The information provided in the GEAR action toolbox is strongly oriented towards the Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans. Consult the document directly for additional information and to access links to further best-practice examples.

The latest She Figures policy briefs cover the issues of institutional culture, research excellence and institutional change, including the impact of COVID-19 (see policy brief 2). Each policy brief presents available data and recommendations. The policy briefs also connect the discussed issues with key policy priorities at EU, national and institutional levels.

The ‘Position paper on the current COVID-19 outbreak and gendered impact on researchers and teachers’, published in June 2020 by the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation, discusses gendered effects of the pandemic and the importance of gender-sensitive research on the subject. It also lists inspiring practices and further recommendations on how to deal with the pandemic.

The Global Research Council’s Gender Working Group has compiled a list of gender equality, diversity and inclusion-related measures taken by national funding organisations participating in the Global Research Council to address COVID-19 effects on researchers.

The case study developed by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Expert Group to update and expand ‘Gendered innovations / innovation through gender’ examines the impact of sex and gender in the current COVID-19 pandemic (published in May 2020). While the focus is on sex differences in physical responses to COVID-19, the case study also addresses the gender-specific socioeconomic burden of public safety measures.

Depositories and platforms for COVID-19 research

The Gender and COVID-19 Working Group was established in February 2020 and brings together academics from around the world. They conduct real-time gender analysis and provide rapid policy guidance and support. You can also join the working group and participate.

The RESISTIRÉ project is a 2-year research project that aims to find sustainable solutions to gendered inequalities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to strengthen societal resilience to outbreaks.

The project #DATACOVIDGENDER was initiated through a collaboration with the GenPORT portal, an output of the EU-funded (seventh framework programme) GenPORT project. It aims to provide scientific evidence through a collaborative, open knowledge archives portal on the gendered implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

EIGE collects publications and other resources concerning COVID-19 and gender equality on its website.

The European Commission also collects references for understanding the impact of sex and gender in the pandemic. On its website, you can find recent and ongoing projects and initiatives with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Commission also recently published a call for applications to join an expert group on COVID-19. Keep an eye out for current tenders if you are interested.