This report begins by summarizing trends in the representation of gender and racial minorities in the economics profession, focusing particularly on the 2021/2022 school year cycle. Specifically, it summarizes trends in the representation of gender and racial minorities in the top 20 Economics Graduate Schools and the top 20 Business Schools. Subsequently, it compares these trends to the ones summarized and analyzed in the 2003/2004 Report on the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.
A persistent and stable racial gender gap exists in the economics profession. The field of economics is dominated by men, in terms of both faculty and students, with disproportionately few women and members of historically underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups relative to the overall population and to other academic disciplines.
By rank, women represent fewer than 15 percent of full professors in economics departments and 31 percent of faculty at the assistant level. Altogether, just 22 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty in economics are women, according to a survey the American Economic Association conducted last year. By many measures, the gender gap in economics is the largest of any academic discipline. For example, women received about 30 percent of doctorate and bachelor’s degrees in economics in 2014 – the same as in 1995 – compared with 45 percent to 60 percent of degrees in business, humanities, and the STEM fields. That’s the latest year for which comparable figures are available. Ultimately, substantial recent evidence suggests that both gender and racial minorities face systematic barriers in the economics profession.
This paper examines the representation of gender across economists in Economics Graduate Departments and Business School Departments (see The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession). Furthermore, it investigates the representation of race across economists in Economics Graduate Departments and Business School Departments (see The Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession). Notably, this is one of the first papers to examine both gender and racial representation in the field.
Our results tie into a large literature that studies the representation of gender and racial minorities in economics. The paper proceeds as follows. Section 2 describes the data set in detail. Section 3 presents the basic empirical results. Section 4, finally, analyzes all the results, as well as compares them to a previous Report on the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.
2. Data on Gender and Racial Minorities: Background and Methodology
2.1 Economics Graduate Schools
The research was conducted during the summer of 2021 and updated during the summer of 2022. We identified the top 20 Economics Graduate Schools, as identified by the most recent US News Rankings.
We began our research by downloading the faculty list from the 20 graduate schools. Our list represented the faculty identified on staff in August of 2021. We selected a field based on the main “interest” stated in each Professor’s bio. The gender of faculty members was determined largely by the faculty member’s name or photo. We first checked if there were any race/ethnicity explicit references in each respective Professor’s CV and/or webpage, but this information was not found. We then proceeded to use race/ethnicity categories, as defined by the Census Bureau and detailed in Appendix A: Hispanic/ Latino, Black, White, Asian, and Other, in order to decide what race/ethnicity to assign to each Professor.
2.2 Business Graduate Schools
Our research was conducted during the summer of 2021 and updated summer 2022. We identified the top 20 Business Graduate Schools, as identified by the most recent US News Rankings. We began our research by downloading the faculty list from the 20 business schools. Our list represented the faculty identified on staff in August of 2021. We chose to define those who have a Ph.D. in economics as economists for comparability purposes. The methodology to define gender and race followed that defined in the previous section.
3. Summary Statistics, Analysis, and Results
3.1 Economics Graduate Schools
The share of women faculty in the top 20 Economics Departments in 2021/2022 is 17.78 percent (see Table 1 and Figure 1). In the Economics Departments, 6.13 percent of faculty are Hispanic/ Latino, Black: 1.79 percent are Black, 75.48 percent are White, and 16.60 percent are Asian (see Table 2).
Regarding top fields of research, 33.33 percent of women faculty, relative to men, focus on Education Economics, follow closely by Health Economics (31.82 percent); see Table 3. Fewer women work in Macroeconomics (9.1 percent) and Theory (7.2 percent).
3.2 Business Graduate Schools
The share of women faculty in the top 20 Business Departments in 2021/2022 is 24.91 percent (see Figure 2 and Table 4). In the Business Departments, 3.82 percent of faculty are Hispanic/ Latino, Black: 2.23 percent are Black, 78.62 percent are White, and 15.33 percent are Asian (see Table 5).
Regarding fields of research, 51 percent of women faculty relative to men in Business Schools focus on Economic Development, followed by Entrepreneurship and Management, both with close to 44 percent (see Table 6). Again, fewer women focus on Macroeconomics, less than 10 percent.
3.3 Comparing The Two Snapshots
The representation of women is somewhat lower in the top 15 economics schools than in the top 15 business schools overall. Furthermore, the representation of women is lower in Full Professor positions, compared to Assistant Professor positions, in economics schools. In contrast, in business schools, there are more women in Full Professor positions compared to Assistant Professor positions. In both economics and business schools, the representation of women in Associate Professor positions is in between the representation of women in Assistant Professor positions and Full Professor positions. Additionally, in business schools, a higher percentage of faculty is white than in economics schools. In business schools, as well, a higher percentage of faculty is black than in economics schools. In economic schools, in contrast, a higher percentage of faculty is both Hispanic/Latino and Asian than in business schools.
We also compare a previous analysis done by The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession from the American Economic Association. According to this study, 15.8 percent of business school faculty was female in 2003/2004. Now, in contrast, 24.9 percent of business school faculty is female in 2021/2022.
A significant, and perhaps growing, proportion of economists are employed outside the boundaries of traditional economics departments. For this reason, we have for some time now been concerned that the focus of our survey on economics departments gives us an incomplete picture of the representation and status of female economists at Universities. This year we began to address this concern by fielding a major data collection initiative focusing on the representation of women among economists at business schools. While we focus on business schools, we acknowledge that a similar problem exists for other units like policy schools, agricultural economics departments, and industrial relations units, to name a few.
And we would at some point like to secure information about these other units as well. We have begun with business schools due to our belief that they comprise a particularly large group of economists employed outside traditional economics departments.
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