Where are all the women in economics?

Clara Starrsjo

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Clara Starrso will be a second-year economics student at Cambridge University

We hear a lot about the under-representation of women in so-called STEM fields – science, technology, engineering as well as maths.

although the proportion of women in economics will be by some measures smaller.

within the US, only about 13% of academic economists in permanent posts are women; within the UK the proportion will be only slightly better at 15.5%.

Only one woman has ever won the Nobel Prize in economics – American Elinor Ostrom in 2009.

as well as there wasn’t even an individual woman on some of the lists floating about guessing who This kind of year’s prize winner would certainly be – This kind of went to the behavioural economist Richard Thaler.

Some have argued which these figures aren’t necessarily the result of bias.

Maybe, they say, women are simply behaving rationally as well as choosing different disciplines which are perhaps more suited to their temperament as well as skills, or choosing to work in different although related fields.

although Cambridge University economics professor Victoria Bateman says which can’t truly explain all of the gap.

“I think which which way of thinking about the problem will be will be completely false,” she says.

“although I think [This kind of] helps explain why economists have for too long hushed up This kind of problem.

“Because if economists’ types are suggesting which sexism doesn’t exist, which This kind of’s all a result of people’s free choices as well as… their personal characteristics, then you deny the fact there will be a problem.”

‘Hotties’ vs ‘Wharton’

In fact, there will be a growing body of research suggesting which there are some biases – overt as well as subconscious – which might be contributing to the lack of women in academic economic departments.

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The proportion of women choosing to study economics at the undergraduate level within the UK has declined over the last decade.

A study published by University of California, Berkeley’s Alice Wu made waves earlier This kind of year.

Using natural language processing, Wu analyzed over one million posts on a website called EconJobRumors.com, which will be a sort of online forum where academic economists discuss job openings as well as candidates.

Like many places on the internet, the conversations aren’t particularly pretty or politically correct.

Wu found which when posters on the site discussed female economists, they used starkly different terms than those which were used to discuss male economists.

Many of those words are incredibly offensive. Posters tended to discuss a woman’s physical appearance (hot as well as hottie were within the top ten) whereas those terms used with men tended to emphasise their intellectual ability (Wharton as well as Austrian – for the school of economic thinking – were within the top terms for men).

‘Women incur a penalty’

The paper caused a lot of debate within the economic community – with many saying which what people say on the internet isn’t necessarily an indication of how they truly think.

University of Bristol professor Sarah Smith says: “I think This kind of’s an extreme view. I don’t think This kind of’s a representation of everyone within the profession.”

although, she adds: “I don’t think This kind of’s surprising when you tie This kind of up with looking at the proportion of women at different levels.”

Prof Smith – who will be also the chair of the Royal Economic Society’s Women’s Committee – cites some other evidence which suggested a bias against women within the economics profession, such as a paper published by Harvard researcher Heather Sarsons.

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Heather Sarsons

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Heather Sarsons found which women’s contributions to co-authored papers tended to be undervalued

which paper found which an extra co-authored paper on an economist’s resume correlates to an 8% increase within the probability of a male economist getting a tenured post – although only a 2% increase for female candidates.

Interestingly, the gap decreased if women co-authored papers with some other women.

Sarsons wrote within the paper: “While solo-authored papers send a clear signal about one’s ability, co-authored papers do not provide specific information about each contributor’s skills. I find which women incur a penalty when they co-author which men do not experience.”

Her paper, she added in a footnote, was intentionally single-authored.

There are more studies – ones which suggest which female economists’ papers take six months longer to peer review in top journals than their male counterparts; which when women get tenured faculty jobs in economics, they get paid less; as well as which even if a woman makes This kind of to the front of a lecture hall – there might be no men listening to them.

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Victoria Bateman

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Prof Victoria Bateman organised a Women in Economics day at Cambridge in 2015 to encourage more young women to enter the field.

“There was a very interesting as well as quick bit of number crunching which was done by the Centre for Global Development which has headquarters in both Washington as well as London,” says Cambridge’s Prof Bateman.

“When they looked at male attendance at the seminars which they run they found which This kind of fell off quite dramatically whenever gender was mentioned within the seminar topic.”

Prof Batemen says the fact which there are so few women at the top has meant which many young women can’t view themselves in those positions. She notes which within the early 2000s the proportion of women studying economics in British universities was around 30%.

This kind of’s down to just 26% today.

‘Only half the story’

which women aren’t even choosing to enter the discipline truly surprised me. So I went to Cambridge to speak to some of the current undergraduates in economics.

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Paulin Ausser says she noticed which there were very few women teaching her economics courses.

I met Paulin Ausser, a final year economics, student at the University Centre on a busy Sunday. I asked her what her experience studying economics had been like.

“When I think back to my lectures last year for instance out of the 11 lecturers as well as supervisors I had throughout the year which are based within the faculty – just one was a woman,” she says.

This kind of will be why she says This kind of can sometimes be hard to imagine a career in academic economics, even though she hopes to pursue This kind of at postgraduate level.

“Representation will be just something which does affect me because I am subconsciously looking for role types or someone where I can say you know, ‘oh which could be me standing up there teaching This kind of lecture’.”

Clara Starrsjo, a second-year student says she notices which her male as well as female classmates approach economics problems differently – which often leads to better, more comprehensive answers.

This kind of will be why she’s become passionate about increasing the number of women who study economics – including meeting with potential female economics students at a Women in Economics day each autumn.

I ask her what she tells these women they should enter the field – even if the odds may seem stacked against them.

“For the moment economists have only looked at the earth around them through male eyes as well as This kind of only provides us with half the story,” she says she tells them.

“as well as with only half the story how can we get results which will help the whole population?”

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