Investigating Public Discourses Around Gender and COVID-19: a Social Media Analysis of Twitter Data

Ahmed Al-Rawi, Karen Grepin, Xiaosu Li, Rosemary Morgan, Clare Wenham, Julia Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We collected over 50 million tweets referencing COVID-19 to understand the public’s gendered discourses and concerns during the pandemic. We filtered the tweets based on English language and among three gender categories: men, women, and sexual and gender minorities. We used a mixed-method approach that included topic modelling, sentiment analysis, and text mining extraction procedures including words’ mapping, proximity plots, top hashtags and mentions, and most retweeted posts. Our findings show stark differences among the different genders. In relation to women, we found a salient discussion on the risks of domestic violence due to the lockdown especially towards women and girls, while emphasizing financial challenges. The public discourses around SGM mostly revolved around blood donation concerns, which is a reminder of the discrimination against some of these communities during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Finally, the discourses around men were focused on the high death rates and the sentiment analysis results showed more negative tweets than among the other genders. The study concludes that Twitter influencers can drive major online discussions which can be useful in addressing communication needs during pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-269
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Healthcare Informatics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Gender
  • Public discourses
  • Social media
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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