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Gender in the Economics Profession II

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, A707
Hosted By: American Economic Association & Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession
  • Chair: Shelly Lundberg, University of California-Santa Barbara

Gender Representation in Economics Across Topics and Time: Evidence from the NBER Summer Institute

Anusha Chari
University of North Carolina & NBER
Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham
Federal Reserve Bank of New York


We document the representation of female economists on the conference programs at the NBER
Summer Institute from 2001-2018. Over the period from 2016-2018, women made up slightly over
21 percent of all authors on scheduled papers. However, there was large dispersion in the female
author share across programs. While the average share of women has slightly risen from 18 percent
since 2001-2003, a persistent gap between finance, macroeconomics and microeconomics subfields
remains. We examine several channels potentially affecting female representation including gender
differences in acceptance and submissions rates, institutional rank, NBER affiliation, faculty
seniority and the role of organizers.

Field Specialization in Economics: A Gender Story?

Eva Sierminska
Ronald Oaxaca
University of Arizona


The distribution of women across academic fields remains uneven. In the economics profession, this is uniquely acute as there are persistently disproportionately fewer women. In fact, female shares in academia have dropped from early 2000 from 25 % to less than 16 % in 2014 (CSWEP Report, 2014). In addition, women in the economics profession are disproportionately concentrated in fewer fields. Economics is a very diverse field with specialty fields varying along a spectrum from abstract theory to applied empirical economics at the borderline of other fields (e.g. health). The prevailing impression is that the proportion of women economists across fields declines with the degree of theoretical abstraction in the specialty areas. We will investigate whether this is the case.
We examine the process that underlies gender differences in Ph.D. fields of specialization within economics to further our understanding of the disparities by modelling the process at the outset of their careers. Our contribution is thus, to understand what is driving the gender segregation in fields in economics. Are the choice fields driven by wages, non-economic factors or is path dependence the explanation? A greater understanding of factors explaining this social inequality would help formulate ideas on how to provide greater equality of opportunity and increase intergenerational transmission of advantage. It will also shed light on the larger issue of gender segregation in the labor market, as it applies to the underrepresentation of women in the STEM and other highly qualified fields. Adding a monetary component to our analysis is a novel aspect of this research.
The decision of field specialization is modelled within a random utility framework based on personal, environmental and economic factors (anticipated salary by field) that leads directly to a conditional logit/multinomial logit model. The data come from three sources and individually collected salary data.

Gender Differences in Citations at Top Economics Journals

Erin Hengel
University of Liverpool


This paper examines gender differences in citations for articles published in top-five economics journals. On average, male-authored papers are cited more than female- authored papers. Yet this finding is driven by a small number of highly cited papers, most of which were written by men—many of whom are Nobel prize winners—over 30 years ago. After controlling for time, author prominence and including either fixed effects for 91 superstar economists or all Nobel prize winners, I find female-authored papers are actually cited more. Moreover, when skewness in the distribution of citations is adjusted using the inverse hyperbolic sine function, female-authored papers are always cited more. I additionally estimate the marginal impact of co-authoring with more women for male authors, only. Using a fixed effects framework, I find that men earn 13 log points more citations when they increase the share of female co-authors on a paper by 50 percent. I conclude by roughly applying a theoretical framework developed in Hengel (2018) to identify the cause behind higher citations in female-authored papers. The results demonstrate suggestive evidence that women’s higher citations are driven by factors outside their control.

Gender and Failures of Rationality in Economic Analysis

Julie A. Nelson
University of Massachusetts-Boston


While behavioral economics has awakened our discipline to the existence of non-rational aspects of human behavior, economists have rarely turned this insight on ourselves. This essay describes how failures of rationality—in particular, gender biases—have distorted economists’ own practices. First, a case study of economists’ research concerning gender “differences” in preferences is presented. Meta-analyses of this literature reveals how confirmation and publication bias have made the “findings” of this field unreliable. Next, examples are given of additional biases in research, followed by some examples of how biases affect policy recommendations. Lastly, examples are given of the way that gender bias distorts economists’ own actions, relative to scientific standards. This paper argues that were our discipline to remedy these failures of rationality in the area of gender biases, it would not only be less hostile towards women, but also more rigorous and reliable.
Nancy Rose
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Donna Ginther
University of Kansas
Anne Winkler
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Nancy Folbre
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics
  • J7 - Labor Discrimination