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Satisfaction among women in Economics has fallen since #MeToo

The gap between women and men’s experience in economics widened slightly over the past five years, with 39% of men saying they were satisfied with the profession’s climate, compared to 40% in 2018.
Last Updated : 06 January 2024, 04:34 IST

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By Catarina Saraiva

Fewer women reported being satisfied with the climate in the economics profession in 2023 compared to five years ago, despite efforts during that time to improve conditions for women in the field, according to a new survey.

About 17 per cent of women in economics said they strongly agreed or agreed with a statement about being satisfied in the profession, down from 20 per cent in 2018, according to the topline results of a survey conducted in the fall. The preliminary findings were presented by University of Chicago Booth School of Business economist Marianne Bertrand Friday at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio.

The gap between women and men’s experience in economics widened slightly over the past five years, with 39 per cent of men saying they were satisfied with the profession’s climate, compared to 40 per cent in 2018.

Women made up just 17.8 per cent of full economics professors in 2022. While representation is higher among students and associate professors, the share of new economics doctoral degree recipients that were women fell in 2023, Bertrand said Friday.

“The underrepresentation leads to a culture that then fosters bias and discrimination and harassment,” said Anusha Chari, chair of the AEA’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.

The AEA has implemented a variety of measures aimed at improving women’s experience in the field since 2017, when a research paper showing gender discrepancies between how men and women were treated on a widely used website helped kick off a #metoo movement among economists.

The organization, which is the chief professional society for US economists, created a new committee focused on diversity, implemented a code of conduct, and created a procedure for handling harassment complaints, among other measures.

But about a quarter to a third of the profession’s members don’t know about these initiatives, the 2023 survey showed.

Economists at Friday’s session also pointed to the need for more buy-in from leaders in the field, including heads of departments at universities. The AEA is planning workshops and other programs to address this, and conducted its first bystander training at the annual meeting Friday to help those who witness or are aware of harassment report it.

The lack of diversity “has far-reaching consequences in the types of research that gets done. There are profound implications to economic research and policy,” Chari said.

The survey’s full results will be published in a report later this year.

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Published 06 January 2024, 04:34 IST

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