Donna Ginther, Erin Hengel, Shelly Lundberg, Jenna Stearns, 06 March 2020

Women are under-represented in economics, and the situation is not improving. Economists Shelly Lundberg, Donna Ginther, Jenna Stearns and Erin Hengel talk to Tim Phillips about VoxEU's new book on the subject that examines the barriers that women face in the profession, and also suggests ways to support the next generation of female economists.
Download the book here

Shelly Lundberg, 05 March 2020

Women are substantially underrepresented in the field of economics. This column introduces a new Vox eBook in which leading experts on the issue of gender in economics examine the role and progress of women in professional economics, review the barriers women face at various stages of the training and promotional pipeline, evaluate programmes designed to support and encourage female economists, and discuss the benefits of greater gender equality across economics research professions. 

Sabrina Howell, Ramana Nanda, 29 February 2020

Venture capital remains a critical source of financing for new ideas and technologies, but only 10-15% of venture capital-backed entrepreneurs are women. Using data from the Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition, this column shows that networking frictions play a significant role in the gender gap, and that structural solutions focused only on providing women entrepreneurs with more exposure to VCs may not be enough to eliminate it. Instead, networking opportunities should be encouraged or even formalised, particularly in the realm of new venture competitions and accelerators.

Thushyanthan Baskaran, Zohal Hessami, 18 February 2020

The fact that women are underrepresented in politics is often viewed as an important social problem. But why should it be a problem? This column argues that when too few women hold political office, political decisions may not adequately reflect women’s needs and preferences. Using the example of the public provision of childcare in Germany, it shows that municipalities with a higher share of female councillors expand public childcare more quickly. The fact that the presence of women has substantive effects on policies should be taken into account in current debates around the introduction of gender quotas in politics.

Anne Boschini, Jesper Roine, 29 January 2020

While the rising income share of top earners has received enormous attention in recent years, the share of women at the top has not been examined as closely. This column analyses income tax data from Sweden, where taxes are filed individually regardless of marital status. It finds that while the share of women among the wealthiest groups has steadily increased over time, women remain a clear minority, especially at the very top. Unlike top-income men, top-income women are much more likely to have partners who are also in the top of the income distribution.

Christine Exley, Judd Kessler, 23 December 2019

Women earn less than men at every level of employment, an inequality that has persisted for decades. This column examines one potential factor, namely, a sizeable gender gap in self-promotion. It considers four possible causes for this gap – performance, confidence, strategic incentives, and ambiguity – and while none can explain the gap alone, they do shed light on some of the labour market perceptions women may internalise over time, and to which employers should be sensitive in hiring practices.

Vladimir Otrachshenko, Olga Popova, José Tavares, 22 December 2019

There is evidence that hot climatic temperatures and crime are linked. With climate change raising temperatures around the world, it is possible we may see higher levels of personal aggression. Based on data from Russia, this column shows that on hotter days, women are more likely to be killed in homicides, especially over weekends. Colder days have no similar effect on violence. Lower wages and higher unemployment contribute to higher homicide rates, so policies promoting employment may mitigate victimisation during extreme temperature days.

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang, 23 November 2019

In the US, both taxes and social security benefits depend on one’s marital status and tend to discourage the labour supply of the secondary earner. Using information on US cohorts born in 1945 and 1955, this column shows that eliminating marriage-related provisions drastically increases the participation of married women over their entire life cycle and reduces the participation of married men after age 60. If the resulting government surplus were used to lower income taxation, there would be large welfare gains for the vast majority of the population.

Angela Cools, Raquel Fernández, Eleonora Patacchini, 30 August 2019

The effect of class gender composition and the effect of peer ability on outcomes are usually examined separately. This column asks whether there are long-term consequences to attending a high school with a larger or smaller number of female or male high achievers. Using data on students in grades 7-12 from a nationally representative sample of roughly 130 private and public schools, it shows that high-achieving boys have a negative and persistent effect on girls’ longer-run education outcomes, but no significant effect on boys’ outcomes. 

Diether W. Beuermann, Kirabo Jackson, 06 July 2019

Most parents have strong views regarding which schools to send their children to. However, evidence shows that attending sought-after public secondary schools does not improve secondary-school examination performance. This column uses data from Barbados to show that secondary school choice does not appear to lead to improvements in exam performance. However, it does have a sizable effect on short-run non-cognitive outcomes that may affect longer-run outcomes.

Raquel Fernández, Sahar Parsa, 20 June 2019

Over the last few decades, there has been a large change in public opinion towards same-sex relationships.It has been argued that to drive such a change in public attitudes, a ‘shock’ of some kind is needed. This column examines the change in attitudes in the US towards same-sex relationships in relation to the AIDS epidemic. It shows that the change is indeed greater in those states most exposed to the AIDS epidemic, although only women reacted significantly to the AIDS rate in the 1990s.

Sascha O. Becker, Ana Fernandes, Doris Weichselbaumer, 05 June 2019

The arrival of a child affects women and men differently in terms of labour market outcomes, but it is difficult to separate out the causal impact of discrimination from other factors. This column uses empirical evidence from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria to show that women are most affected in part-time job applications if they signal a ‘risk’ of having young children soon.

Alison Booth, Jungmin Lee, 11 May 2019

The gender pay gap in South Korea is the highest in the OECD and South Korean women are under-represented in public life. This column uses data from a long-running TV quiz show to examine whether these gender gaps may be due to differences in male and female attitudes to competition.The results suggest that South Korean girls are increasingly hindered by psychological stress and risk aversion as the pressure from competition increases, and also tend to be less confident in their knowledge than boys. The findings stand in contrast to those from similar studies in the US, possibly due to differences in cultural values.

David Yanagizawa-Drott, 07 May 2019

By custom, women in Saudi Arabia need the consent of either their husband or father to get a job. David Yanagizawa-Drott discusses research suggesting that that most Saudi men privately believe that women should be allowed to work, but they underestimate the extent to which other men share their views.

Judith Delaney, Paul Devereux, 19 April 2019

Women are much less likely to study STEM degrees at university. This column reveals that in the case of Ireland, the gender gap is concentrated in the areas of engineering, technology, and mathematics. Subject choice in secondary school is the most important predictor of the portion of the gap that can be explained, with a small role for grades achieved in mathematics versus English. A gender gap of 9% remains even among students who studied the same subjects and achieved the same grades at secondary school.

Agata Maida, Andrea Weber, 15 March 2019

Mandated gender quotas in Italy have been successful at increasing the number of women on boards. But the relevant law is temporary and affects only a small number of firms. The column uses evidence on employment and earnings to show no increase in female representation at the top executive level or among top earners. This may be because norms and perceptions take time to change, or because newly appointed women in senior roles wield limited power.

Jörg Baten, Alexandra de Pleijt, 11 February 2019

Empirical evidence suggests a positive relationship between gender equality and long-term economic growth, but establishing the direction of causality has been hampered by a lack of consistent data. This column uses historical evidence on dairy farming to examine the growth effects of gender equality. Countries with greater female autonomy allowed women to contribute more to human capital formation and prosperity, leading to greater economic development in the long run.

Bastien Chabé-Ferret, Paula Gobbi, 26 January 2019

Between the early 1940s and the late 1960s, the secular decline in fertility that started at the turn of the 19th century in most developed countries was interrupted by a massive baby-boom. This column argues that although much attention has focused on this boom, fertility rates preceding it were abnormally low. The evidence suggests that economic uncertainty can explain a substantial part of the major swings in fertility over the 20th century.

Smriti Sharma, 20 December 2018

Smriti Sharma of Newcastle University and former Research Fellow at UNU-Wider discusses the last decade of research at UNU-WIDER tells us about gender. 

Shelly Lundberg, Jenna Stearns, 18 December 2018

Although the share of women in top PhD-granting departments more than doubled between 1972 and 1993, this growth has stalled in recent years. This column reviews recent literature on women’s relative position in the discipline and assesses the evidence on barriers that female economists face in publishing, promotion, and tenure. It suggests that differentialassessment of men and women is one factor in explaining women’s failure to advance in economics and that continued progress toward equality in academic economics will require a concerted effort to remove opportunities for bias in the hiring and promotion processes.

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