More evidence female radiologists are bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s impact on imaging

New survey data provide further evidence that women in radiology are bearing the brunt of COVID-19’s impact on the specialty.

Several studies have explored this phenomenon recently, with female physicians forced to take on greater shares of child-rearing and other domestic duties during the pandemic. Now comes a new survey from NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, published Tuesday in Academic Radiology.

Polling nearly 100 members of the profession, women reported higher rates of feeling “out of control” during the pandemic (51%) when compared to men (27%). Both sexes reported statistically significant increases in time spent on home care, and about 49% of men said they shared household obligations equally versus 35% of women.

“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to disrupt the advancement of women in radiology leadership roles by creating disparate effects on productivity due to increased workloads at home for women,” corresponding author Cathleen Heffernan, MD, a breast imaging specialist and associate professor with the New York City institution, and colleagues wrote May 25. “This could potentially lead to decreases in promotions and research productivity in years to come that far outlast the acute phases of the pandemic.”

NYU administered the 49-question survey in October, targeting more than 900 members with the Association of University Radiologists. Ninety-six responded, representing 30 states, and nearly an even split of men (53%) and women (47%). Even prior to the pandemic, female radiologists reported spending more time on home care (10-15 hours per week) than men (5-10 hours per week). Female survey respondents with young children also relayed a “significant” decrease in work-from-home productivity compared to males in the same scenario.

“Future actions should include taking steps to mitigate the untenable work-life balance for both male and female faculty with young children including flexible work hours, continuing to support remote work options and, if possible, provision of child care options,” Heffernan et al. concluded. “In addition, establishing and/or supporting the development of female leadership groups which offer structural support to faculty early in their careers can help promote more organic mentorship opportunities.”

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