2018 Panel on Gender in the Economics Profession

The Panel on Gender in the Economics Profession was a part of the  Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ Thinking Big series.

Organizer Dhuey, Elizabeth A (University of Toronto)
Chair Dhuey, Elizabeth A (University of Toronto)
Sponsor Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Panelists Kahn, Shulamit (Boston University)
Neill, Christine (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Sarsons, Heather (Harvard University)
Prummer, Anja (Queen Mary University of London)


Key Ideas and Results from the Panel

Shulamit Kahn:

After some improvement in the 1970s and 80s, the status of women among academic tenure-stream economists has stagnated. In contrast to most other scientific fields (excluding computers), there continue to be large gender gaps in receiving tenure and in salaries and women are decreasing as a percent of new economics PhDs.  Not surprisingly, women are less satisfied with their academic jobs than men.  There is much more gender equality in job satisfaction among those PhD economists who work outside academia. Academic women economists do have fewer publications than men, but publications cannot explain most of the gender gaps.


Christine Neill:

Canadian universities have recently been hiring a lower proportion of women than expected based on the PhD cohort. This may be a small sample size issue, but it could also reflect differential rates of hiring depending on the competitiveness of the job market. This shows up in other areas–for instance, black-white employment rate gaps are known to increase during recessions.

CWEN has regularly interviewed senior women in economics for our newsletters, and asked what experiences they have had that seem to be specific to being a woman in the profession. Mostly, they reported having had no particular problematic experiences. But if we are looking for reasons that women don’t make it to senior positions, the experiences of senior women are probably not a helpful guide–not only are they a selected sample, but…we don’t even know the dimensions on which selection might occur.

Anja Prummer:

We document gender disparities in participation, research output and collaboration patterns in economics, over the period 1970-2011.

 There was a significant increase in the share of women in economics, from 8% to 29%. Despite the higher number of female economists, the gender output gap is large and persistent: men produced over 50% more research than women throughout this period.

Similar to the output gap, collaboration differences of men and women have also remained large and stable: Women have fewer collaborators and a higher fraction of their co-authors are co-authors of each other. Moreover, women write fewer single-authored papers and collaborate with more senior co-authors.

While both men and women have a bias in favour of collaborating with their own gender, this cannot explain the observed collaboration patterns.

Heather Sarsons:

Using data from academic economists’ CVs, I test whether coauthored and solo-authored publications matter differently for tenure for men and women. Because coauthors are listed alphabetically in economics, coauthored papers do not provide specific information about each contributor’s skills or ability. Solo-authored papers, on the other hand, provide a relatively clear signal of ability. I find that men are tenured at roughly the same rate regardless of whether they coauthor or solo-author. Women, however, become less likely to receive tenure the more they coauthor. The result is most pronounced for women coauthoring with men and less pronounced among women who coauthor with other women. I contrast economics with sociology, a discipline in which coauthors are listed in order of contribution, and find that when contributions are made clear, men and women receive equal credit for coauthored papers.