COVID-19 and Gender Disparities in Pediatric Cardiologists with Dependent Care Responsibilities.

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The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects females in the home and workplace. This study aimed to acquire information regarding the gender-specific effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on aspects of professional and personal lives of a subset of pediatric cardiologists. We sent an online multiple-choice survey to a listserv of Pediatric Cardiologists. Data collected included demographics, dependent care details, work hours, leave from work, salary cut, childcare hours before and after the COVID-19 peak lockdown/stay at home mandate and partner involvement. 242 pediatric cardiologists with dependent care responsibilities responded (response rate of 20.2%). A significantly higher proportion of females reported a salary cut (29.1% of females vs 17.6% of males, p=0.04) and scaled back or discontinued work (14% vs 5.3%; p=0.03). Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown phase, females provided more hours of dependent care. Females also reported a significantly greater increase in childcare hours overall per week (45 h post/30 h pre vs. 30 h post/20 h pre for men; p<0.001).  Male cardiologists were much more likely to have partners who reduced work hours (67% vs. 28%; p<0.001) and reported that their partners took a salary cut compared to partners of female cardiologists (51% vs. 22%; p<0.001). In conclusion, gender disparity in caregiver responsibilities existed among highly skilled pediatric cardiologists even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disproportionately affected female pediatric cardiologists with respect to dependent care responsibilities, time at work, and financial compensation.

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Authors: Sunita J Ferns, Shiva Gautam, Mark L Hudak