In April 2020, following one of our endless Zoomversations about the gender differences of the pandemic, I began to scheme with my friend Nell the idea that we could put together a bibliography and start exploring what we were seeing in the news. She’s an anthropologist; I’m a medical librarian. We both were curious about what was being written, who was writing it, and how women and work was or was not being considered and represented.

To date (September 2020) that has grown to a collection of nearly 700 articles about women, work, and the novel coronavirus. On an irregular basis (about twice a month), I do broad blunt searches for English language news stories. Many additional stories have been shared with us from peers who have seen me Tweet about this. A few research papers have been included — some with all male authors, which I find problematic.

A public version of the bibliography, just the citation information and a citation for the bibliography, is available on my blog. This is updated monthly or so; it’s not been my only priority. The main bibliography lives in a private Zotero group, where I also have full HTML screencaptures of the news stories that I hope we will be able to use to answer research questions in the upcoming months and years. Someone asked the other day how long I’ll keep this up and right now I don’t have an end date because the pandemic certainly has not ended.

Nell and I are both researchers and teachers — we’d love to collaborate and supervise students interested in work with the dataset and asking questions of the data. There are a lot of research questions to ask and they cross a number of disciplines. Just at a glance I see Human Resources, Women and Gender Studies, Linguistics, Public Health, Anthropology, History, Sociology, Economics,… so many different fields and interdisciplinary opportunities. I’ve identified a few themes that I believe could be explored in the bibliography just as I’ve been capturing articles:

  • Women and childcare obligations described *in depth* — men overwhelmingly excused from this obligation
  • Women being penalized at jobs for having to do this unpaid childcare
  • Women who are not mothers are minimally acknowledged
  • Women making masks and the evolution of language around that. (The sanctified women like those from WWII to “look at the Hot Male Designers selling masks!” — that’s a *really * interesting one)
  • Analysis of the images being used in these stories
  • Bibliometric analysis of where these stories are written and by whom
  • Representation or lack of Black and Latinx women and the impact on them
  • Language around reliance on all adults in paid employment as a cultural norm and requirement

There are absolutely some limits to what we’re capturing — articles have to be in English; they have to be discovered through really straightforward search terms on major search engines. And this project has to be done in the nooks and crannies of time we can commit to it. But with that alone, we have nearly 700 articles.

We have one student who is starting a project on this dataset currently. She’ll also be doing some ongoing work related to cleaning it up and standardizing it so that as we continue to share there aren’t all-caps and missing authors.

Please do let me know if you see articles that would fit into the bibliography — I’m not looking forward to the 1000 article mark, but I want to make sure we capture it when it arrives.