Gender and the Economics Profession

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Acapulco
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Shulamit Kahn, Boston University

Equal but Inequitable: Who Benefits From Gender-Neutral Tenure Clock Stopping Policies?

Kelly Bedard
,
University of California-Santa Barbara
Heather Antecol
,
Claremont McKenna College
Jenna Stearns
,
University of California-Santa Barbara

Abstract

Many skilled professional occupations are characterized by an early period of intensive skill accumulation and career establishment. Examples include law firm associates, surgical residents, and untenured faculty at research-intensive universities. High female exit rates are sometimes blamed on the inability of new mothers to survive the sustained negative productivity shock associated with childbearing and early childrearing in these environments. Gender-neutral family policies have been adopted in some professions in an attempt to ``level the playing field." The gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies adopted by the majority of research-intensive universities in the United States in recent decades are an excellent example. But to date, there is no empirical evidence showing that these policies help women. Using a unique data set on the universe of assistant professor hires at top-50 economics departments from 1985-2004, we show that the adoption of gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies substantially reduced female tenure rates while substantially increasing male tenure rates. JEL Codes: J13, J16, J24.

Do Female Professors Survive the 19th-century Tenure System?: Evidence from the Economics Ph.D. Class of 2008

Jihui Chen
,
Illinois State University
Myongjin Kim
,
University of Oklahoma
Qihong Liu
,
University of Oklahoma

Abstract

This study examines early career outcomes (i.e., tenure and promotion) of the Economics Ph.D. class of 2008. We find that relative to males in the same cohort, female economists are less likely (by 9.6%) to have received tenure and promotion during the first eight years since graduation. The gender gap becomes more pronounced, or 12%, among individuals of foreign origins working in the U.S. In addition, we find a similar gender bias regarding whether an individual remains in academia since the initial job placement in 2008. In particular, female faculty, particularly international women working in the U.S., are more likely to quit than their male counterparts in their post-doctoral careers. Our analysis contributes to the literature in two aspects: First, our sample consists of a wide range of U.S. economics programs (top 57), which allows us to conduct an analysis more immune to selection bias, compared to existing studies. Second, we examine a new and growing dimension of the labor market – the gender and international perspectives of professional achievements of new Ph.D. economists. JEL Codes: J16, J44, J71

Gender Differences in Recognition for Group Work

Heather Sarsons
,
Harvard University

Abstract

Within academia, men are tenured at higher rates than women are in most quantitative fields, including economics. Researchers have attempted to identify the source of this disparity but find that nearly 30% of the gap remains unexplained even after controlling for family commitments and differences in productivity. Using data from academic economists' CVs, I test whether coauthored and solo-authored publications matter differently for tenure for men and women. While solo-authored papers send a clear signal about one's ability, coauthored papers are noisy in that they do not provide specific information about each contributor's skills. I find that men are tenured at roughly the same rate regardless of whether they coauthor or solo-author. Women, however, suffer a significant penalty when they coauthor. The result is most pronounced for women coauthoring with only men and is less pronounced the more women there are on a paper. I explore several channels that could explain these results. JEL Codes: M51, J16.

Does Better Information Reduce the Gender Gap in Economics Majors?

Cher Li
,
Colorado State University

Abstract

Women have been persistently underrepresented in undergraduate economics majors in the past two decades. Prior literature finds that women are more sensitive than men to low grades, and hence more likely to gravitate towards other disciplines when women receive a low grade from introductory economics classes. This study examines whether additional information provision helps reducing the gender imbalance in economics majors. The identification of this study relies on a randomized-control design implemented in introductory economics classes in the spring semester in 2016 at a public four-year college. Students who are enrolled in the introductory economics classes are randomly assigned into treatment and control groups. During the semester, information on career paths and expected earnings associated with economics, and individual relative performance (grade percentiles) in class, is provided to women in the treatment group. The study measures the change in students’ subjective probability of majoring in economics over the semester, and the difference of the changes in subjective probability between the treatment and control groups captures the effect of the intervention. Two waves of surveys are administered – one in the beginning and the other at the end of the semester – to elicit students’ subjective assessment of their probability majoring in economics, their beliefs about future earnings associated with an economics bachelor degree, and their perceived likelihood of success majoring in economics. Students’ GPA and instructor information are also obtained from the administrative records. The preliminary 800 responses from the first wave of the survey show no gender difference in students’ subjective probability of majoring in economics in the beginning of the semester. However, female students perceive relatively lower course enjoyment, lower expected earnings, and lower likelihood of succeeding in economics than their male counterparts do. JEL Codes: D8, I2, J16.
Discussant(s)
Donna Ginther
,
University of Kansas
Shulamit Kahn
,
Boston University
Julia Lane
,
New York University
David Neumark
,
University of California-Irvine
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics
  • J4 - Particular Labor Markets