Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Women In Economics, Interrupted

Inside Higher Ed, Women in Economics, Interrupted:

Female economists probably didn’t need a quantitative study to know that they get asked more questions when presenting than their male counterparts. Indeed, many female academics are familiar with manterruptions, an offshoot of the mansplaining phenomenon. Female economists probably didn’t need a formal analysis of the kinds of questions they get asked to know that they face more patronizing or hostile queries than their male peers, either.

But numbers are a good thing — especially to economists — and now there exists such a study, courtesy of a group of prominent economists. These researchers plan to publish the new working paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research and otherwise use it to promote change in a field that has historically been unwelcoming to women.

Gender and the Dynamics of Economics Seminars:

Econ 2This paper reports the results of the first systematic attempt at quantitatively measuring the seminar culture within economics and testing whether it is gender neutral. We collected data on every interaction between presenters and their audience in hundreds of research seminars and job market talks across most leading economics departments, as well as during summer conferences. We find that women presenters are treated differently than their male counterparts. Women are asked more questions during a seminar and the questions asked of women presenters are more likely to be patronizing or hostile. These effects are not due to women presenting in different fields, different seminar series, or different topics, as our analysis controls for the institution, seminar series, and JEL codes associated with each presentation. Moreover, it appears that there are important differences by field and that these differences are not uniformly mitigated by more rigid seminar formats. Our findings add to an emerging literature documenting ways in which women economists are treated differently than men, and suggest yet another potential explanation for their under-representation at senior levels within the economics profession. 

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