NYT Upshot cites Brian Jacob's work on gender differences

May 13, 2014

In his May 10 story for the New York Times' Upshot, Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan argues that the gender pay gap can reverse by 2064. Mullainathan draws evidence from education, citing the work of Ford School Professor Brian Jacob in his argument.

"Academically, girls have not merely caught up with boys in performance: they have overtaken them," writes Mullainathan in "Possible Path to Closing Pay Gap." Can the educational achievements of girls translate to the workplace? Mullainathan believes it can because boys, on average, have trouble with focus, self-control, and other noncognitive skills.

"Brian A. Jacob, an economist at the University of Michigan, found in a study published in 2002 that boys' behavioral problems explain a substantial share of women's advantage in college enrollment," Mullainathan writes. "Those [noncognitive skills] that it takes to succeed in college—time management, writing ability, structuring tasks on your own, working in teams—are also needed in the modern workplace." However society, argues Mullainathan, may hold women back through rigid gender norms.

Brian Jacob is the Annenberg Professor of Education at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and co-founder of the school's Education Policy Initiative.