• Chart of the Week
  • June 19, 2019

Gender inequality across disciplines

A panel on women in economics at the AEA Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

American Economic Association

Over the past year, there has been growing attention on gender inequality within economics, and with good reason. Despite making gains in other academic disciplines, women have struggled to make inroads with economics departments in the US.

But it’s not just a problem in America. Universities across the Atlantic are contending with this issue, too.

In the latest issue of AEA Papers and Proceedings, authors Danula Gamage and Almudena Sevilla track the gender gap in economics at universities in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the picture there looks just as bleak.


Figure 1 from Gamage and Sevilla (2019)


Relying on data from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency, the figure above compares the trend in female representation in economics to other disciplines. Indeed, it shows that women have made little progress in the field over the past decade, with the trend since 2004 staying stubbornly flat at around 25 percent.

Meanwhile, disciplines like Sociology and Psychology compare much more favorably and have shown steady growth, with women now achieving parity with men in Sociology. The dismal science isn’t the worst, though. Hard science fields including Math, Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry, and Engineering were pathetically low, with the percentage of female faculty hovering in the teens.

The authors went on in their paper to examine the impact of a gender equality initiative on wages and employment of female faculty. This initiative, the Athena Scientific Women’s Academic Network Charter, did narrow the gender wage gap but was not successful in helping promote women to professorships.