How Women Are Still Misrepresented In Economics

How Women Are Still Misrepresented In Economics

Gender bias is impacting the credit female economists receive.

In today’s society, it is safe to say that there have been serious strides made in terms of gender equality. While we are by no means equal, it is comforting to know that the seriousness of the gender gap has been acknowledged as a real issue. The gender wage gap has been the focus of many professionals in Hollywood and just recently 10 major companies, including Twitter and Barclays, went public with their gender parity issues, vowing to make changes. And while these strides are admirable, there are still many issues that women in the professional world are facing that aren’t attracting so much attention. One specific field that faces gender discrimination is in the seemingly male-driven field of economics.

Over the past few months, Justin Wolfers, an Australian and American economist, has published two articles in the New York Times regarding the way credit is given in his field. In “When Teamwork Doesn’t Work for Women,” Wolfers cites a study done by Heather Sarsons, an economist who is currently finishing up her dissertation at Harvard. Sarsons has found that women are suffering from a serious gender bias in terms of receiving the credit they deserve in situations where group work has been done. In the field of economics, being published is a highly crucial component to being offered tenure, the saying “publish or perish” absolutely applies here. Long story short, while women seem to be offered tenure equally when they publish alone, their chances greatly diminish when they work with others, especially men. When this happens, credit is often attributed to the men, because author’s names are listed alphabetically rather than in order of who did the majority of the work, revealing that there is in fact a gender bias in economics.

Wolfers also wrote an article in November regarding the lack of credit female economists receive called “Even Famous Female Economists Get No Respect.” He tackled the issue by focusing on a few different economic “power couples,” including a ridiculous story regarding Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and her husband, George Akerlof, a Noble Prize-winning economist. Apparently, Ralph Nader decided to write an open letter to Yellen regarding monetary policy, suggesting she sit down with her husband, and together decide what to do about it, even though he doesn’t even study that field of economics. Wolfers article continued with many other examples of men who received more credit than their wives on projects they had coauthored, often when their wives were the primary authors.

As a woman who will be entering the workforce within the next few years, I see a genuine issue with the gender bias that many professional fields continue to suffer with. While women should be speaking up, I can see how in a male-dominated field, that isn’t always easy. Besides that, this isn’t a matter of speaking up because it’s an issue of false assumptions. It’s great that women who choose to write solo are receiving just as much credit as men who make that choice. But a woman shouldn’t have to be the sole author of a project just because she’s nervous that if she were to work with a man, she wouldn’t receive her due credit. That’s ridiculous. Yet Ms. Sarsons findings are so important, because they prove that this is a real problem women are facing.

Though they still face criticism, I’m glad to see that people are able to speak up and fight gender inequalities in certain fields, such as Hollywood and politics, because it shows that America has changed. But I don’t think we will be able to say we’ve truly seen change until the women outside of the spotlight feel they have seen equality. Economics is a field that studies all subjects, including ones that are typically deemed feminine. There is no reason for people, including fellow economists, to assume that men are generally the first authors. I look forward to seeing how, and if, the field changes within the next few years as a new generation continues to infiltrate the workforce.

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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.


Me, today. 


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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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