This past week has yielded some incredible experiences from the Wall St tour to sitting down with staff at the New York Federal Reserve, topped off with the amazing lineup at the American Economists Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
In particular Gender Issues in Economics, chaired by Justin Wolfers, presented a range of topics around inbuilt bias and constraints on diversity affecting women. Find a link here to the session. The papers presented in this session offered some salient reminders of enduring conditions that affect women. Alice Wu's paper, widely discussed in the media, has ignited a passionate response to force moderators on EJMR to re-evaluate their permissive attitudes in publishing sexist comments aimed at women. More endemic is the persistent marginalisation of women in common textbook and teaching materials. Stevenson's paper demonstrated through a sound investigation of the top 10 economic textbooks used in the US that men appear in 77% of the examples and problems. Female characters are often made up. If a brief encounter with a role model can inspire women, surely this matters. This representation advertises where economics sees women. If that's the case we're not telling the full story. It is difficult to perfectly calibrate the remedies that will get more women involved in economics but there are simple solutions, like calling out bias where it exists. Paraphrasing Hemingway, we can rely on luck to change culture but we're better off by being exact!