Following up on my previous posts:
New York Times, Female Economists Push Their Field Toward a #MeToo Reckoning:
The economics profession is facing a mounting crisis of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying that women in the field say has pushed many of them to the sidelines — or out of the field entirely.
Those issues took center stage at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting, the largest gathering of the profession, last weekend in Atlanta. Spurred by substantiated allegations of harassment against one of the most prominent young economists in the country, top women in the field shared stories of their own struggles with discrimination. Graduate students and junior professors demanded immediate steps by the A.E.A. to help victims of harassment and discipline economists who violate the group’s newly adopted code of conduct.
Leading male economists offered an unprecedented acknowledgment of harassment and discrimination in the field. “Economics certainly has a problem,” Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who took over as A.E.A. president this year, said during a panel discussion. The profession has, “unfortunately, a reputation for hostility toward women and minorities,” he said.
Janet L. Yellen, who was the first chairwoman of the Fed and will head the A.E.A. next year, said that addressing the issue “should be the highest priority” for economists in the years to come.
During a panel discussion on gender issues, Ms. Yellen was one of several women who shared stories of discrimination and bullying. Her fellow panelists described a list of “known” male predators in academic departments who have never been punished for behavior that included repeatedly making unwanted sexual advances toward junior colleagues.
One of the panelists, Susan Athey, a Stanford economist, said she had bought “khakis and loafers” to fit in with the men in the lunchroom of her first economics department, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She did so even though the department was the “most supportive environment” she has encountered in her career.
“I spent all my time hoping that no one would remember I was female,” said Ms. Athey, a past winner of a prestigious award for young economists. “I didn’t want to remind people that I’m a sexual being.”
Economics has long struggled with diversity. Only about a third of economics doctorates go to women, and the gender gap is wider at senior levels of the profession. Racial and ethnic minorities — particularly African-Americans and Latinos — are even more underrepresented. And notably, the gender gap in economics is wider than in other social sciences and, at least by some measures, traditionally male-dominated fields such as science and math.
Certain subfields, like finance, have a particularly poor record of advancing women. A branch of the American Finance Association presented survey results in Atlanta that show barely 10 percent of tenured finance professors, and 16 percent of tenure-track faculty, are women. In economics as a whole, women accounted for about 23 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty in 2015. ...
The economics association last year approved its first code of professional conduct, which calls for “equal opportunity and fair treatment for all economists” regardless of sex, race or other characteristics. The association also created a standing committee to address diversity, and is surveying its members about harassment and discrimination.
But many economists, particularly younger ones, pushed leaders here for more aggressive action. Hundreds of graduate students and research assistants have signed an open letter calling for more explicit codes of conduct, stronger enforcement and better systems for reporting abuses, among other reforms. ...
Many male economists long dismissed claims of bias and discrimination, arguing that gender disparities must reflect differences in preference or ability. They pointed to theories that predict that, in the simplified world of economic models, discrimination on the basis of characteristics like gender and race would disappear because of competition.
In recent years, however, a growing body of research has found evidence of discrimination at virtually every stage of the profession, from undergraduate enrollment to tenure decisions. Erin Hengel, a University of Liverpool economist, has found that women are held to higher standards of writing and research than their male colleagues. Alice Wu, then an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, made waves two years ago with a paper documenting rampant misogyny and hostility toward women on a popular online forum for graduate students.
One provocatively titled paper presented in Atlanta asked “Does Economics Make You Sexist?”