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Wolfers in New York Times: “Why women’s voices are scarce in economics”

February 3, 2018

“For decades, the number of women studying economics seemed to be increasing, easing the persistent scarcity of professional female economists in the United States,” writes Justin Wolfers in his February 2 column, "Why women's voices are scarce in economics," for the New York Times' Economic View. “But that progress has stalled.”

Citing his own analysis, along with a new report by the American Economics Association, Wolfers shows that the upward trend of women studying economics has started to reverse since the turn of the century.

“This decline in the share of women at relatively early stages of the economics career path is already beginning to reshape the field at more senior levels,” Wolfers continues. For instance, just 14 percent of full professors in economics departments with doctoral programs are female.

For women pursuing a career in economics, barriers exist at every stage of the pipeline—from receiving credit for written work to gaining tenure.

This ‘leaky pipeline’ has important consequences, Wolfers notes. A 2014 survey of economists found women respondents often had different perspectives toward policy issues than their male counterparts. Female economists also tend to focus on different policy topics than men—like labor markets, health, education, and children—and the scarcity of women in the field could mean these important voices remain underrepresented for years to come.