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The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress brought together by then French President Sarkozy and led by Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi comprised 25 prominent economists in all, of which 2 were women: Bina Agarwal and Nancy Folbre.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/118025/118123/Fitoussi+Commission+report

 

More recently Diane Coyle has been doing interesting work in the area of measurement (see also below). And, in a different way, so has Mariana Mazzucato. Both have received a lot of coverage via mainstream channels.

 

Someone else’s work worth reading is that of Rana Foroohar, formerly of Time magazine and these days Associate Ed of the Financial Times and author of the extremely worthwhile “Makers and Takers”:

 

http://www.ranaforoohar.com/

 

This theme of a bifurcation in capitalism between industry and finance is hardly new, of course, but it has gained a lot of traction in recent years largely because of the work of Foroohar and Mazzucato, among others:

 

https://marianamazzucato.com/

 

As role models they would seem to be eminently suitable.

 

Michael

 

OPINION

Male-dominated economics fails half the population

Diane Coyle

Financial Times, 29 August 2017

To most people, an economist is the chap interviewed in newspapers or on the television uttering acronym-laced incantations about 0.3 per cent this or 10 per cent that. He is usually a man, rarely stylish, mysteriously confident, and a bit dull.

Could these same people really be crude misogynists? A research paper by an American undergraduate student, Alice Wu (recently brought to wider attention by economist Justin Wolfers), looked at the words most often used to describe men and women by contributors to an online forum popular with graduate students, Economics Job Market Rumors. The language applied to describe women was frequently sexual and derogatory. The words used to describe men were mainly appropriately work-related (with the exception of “homosexual” and “homo”).

EJMR has a reputation for being populated by unpleasant trolls. One suggestion responding to the new research — one often made when women encounter violent or sexual language online — is to ignore the behaviour, on the grounds that no one serious takes it seriously.

Of course it is true that online culture in general has a problem with misogynistic trolls: witness the onslaught on Cambridge classicist Mary Beard recently for daring to know quite a lot about Roman Britain while female. But apart from the irony of advising women to shut up for being on the receiving end of abuse, this is a problem the economics profession must not ignore. It goes well beyond a nasty corner of a website used mainly by graduate students.

First of all, the numbers. About 28 per cent of economics students in the UK are female, and this proportion has trended down. The proportion of academics in the field who are women declines at every increasing level of seniority; is static, at best, over time; and compares unfavourably with most

To most people, an economist is the chap interviewed in newspapers or on the television uttering acronym-laced incantations about 0.3 per cent this or 10 per cent that. He is usually a man, rarely stylish, mysteriously confident, and a bit dull.

Could these same people really be crude misogynists? A research paper by an American undergraduate student, Alice Wu (recently brought to wider attention by economist Justin Wolfers), looked at the words most often used to describe men and women by contributors to an online forum popular with graduate students, Economics Job Market Rumors. The language applied to describe women was frequently sexual and derogatory. The words used to describe men were mainly appropriother academic disciplines, including other social sciences and natural sciences. The US figures are similar.

The explanation is not innate analytical ability. If it were, the natural sciences would look similar in their gender balance. Some economists think it reflects women’s preferences. But it is patronising to suggest women just prefer literature and psychology to financial crises and digital business models. Young women are as interested as men in the state of the world.

Lack of role models might play a part, as the eager student interested in the economy can only occasionally open her Financial Times to see a picture of a powerful woman (though thank goodness for Christine Lagarde, Margarethe Vestager and Janet Yellen). If not discouraged from further study, she will relatively rarely attend economics lectures at her college or university taught by a woman.

A more likely culprit is the culture of the subject. And this is why the language used on EJMR matters. Its perpetrators are not challenged and do not expect to be. While few grown-up male economists would dream of saying such things themselves, they have created and collude in an aggressive intellectual culture that patronises female colleagues. The minority feels authorised to use such language because it is an exaggerated version of what they observe.

To an extent unimaginable in many other fields, economics seminars are hostile occasions for point-scoring and aggressive challenge. Junior women hardly say a word. Papers written by women are routinely held to higher standards and take longer to get published, in an academic world where publication is everything for career prospects. Peer review rewards peers, and they are mainly men. These phenomena are not unique to economics, but the numbers say plainly that there is a particular problem here.

Does this matter? Yes. It is just as bad to have mainly male economic research and policy advice as it is to test medicines mainly on men. The results will fail at least half the population. Male researchers do excellent work on taxes and the labour market, or pensions or interventions in education, but there are questions, incentives and behaviours that just will not cross their minds. It is, after all, a social science.

Ms Wu’s research should make all male economists extremely uncomfortable. Even the least patronising of them is complicit if their response is to do nothing. The reputation of economics is already tarnished, even a decade on from the financial crisis, and this new evidence of entrenched discrimination will not improve matters.

This is not a women problem, it is an economics problem. It is deeply embedded in the discipline’s culture and norms, and the profession’s senior men need to take it seriously.

 

From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of John Harvey
Sent: keskiviikko 5. syyskuuta 2018 3.38
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [External] Re: [AFEEMAIL] Why don't women major in econ?

 

Thank you all very much, I have been reading with great interest and enthusiasm!

 

John

 

On Sat, Sep 1, 2018 at 9:21 AM Zalewski, Dave <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi Everyone,

 

Interesting conversation! Attached is an article related to Bob's post that appeared in the June 2018 issue of Finance and Development.

 

Dave

 

David Zalewski
Professor, School of Business
Providence College
Ryan Center 252
Providence, RI 02918


From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Daphne Greenwood <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2018 3:26:48 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [External] Re: [AFEEMAIL] Why don't women major in econ?

 

Re John’s analysis .. Absolutely... same holds for many minority students.

 

Daphne

Sent by iPhone so anything strange was  authored by auto complete 😔


On Aug 31, 2018, at 11:22 AM, Bob Lucore <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

John,

That would seem closely related to the research done by Ann Mari May and others. If I am remembering the findings correctly, women economists are much more likely to recommend solutions to economic problems that don't rely on the obsolete market mentality.

 

Bob

Bob Lucore

Technology Support Consultant

 

On Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 1:09 PM John Harvey <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear AFEE Friends, 

 

I have been working on an initiative to increase the representation of women and minorities in our program (we run at or near the bottom on campus). As we all know, this is a pervasive problem not limited to TCU by any means.

 

As I dig into this, I find literature that refers to the greater sensitivity of women to intro econ grades, the desire for clearer career options by women, the lack of role models in our discipline, etc. What I haven't seen is anyone saying that our core problem is Neoclassical theory. Surely someone has done so?  It seems to me that if I’m a member of a minority or a woman (or both) and I hear from my mainstream intro econ instructor that the market objectively determines what I deserve to earn, I’m done with econ. Sure, they’ll tack on a dummy variable or mention “frictions” or “imperfections,” but that’s clearly not the core theory and the latter will not strike me as a relevant to my experiences. On the other hand, if I’m a white male–particularly one with a bit of a chip on my shoulder–then this is what I’ve been looking for. Sorry I get paid more, but I deserve it!

 

My own informal survey work has looked at women who decided to pick econ anyway (our alumni), so this was clearly not a problem for them. But it is my sense that this is the real reason women stay away from us is Neoclassicism.

 

What say you all? Does that ring true or am I missing something?

 

John

 

This email originated from outside of Providence College. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.