Ekonomija je tudi v Evropi zelo seksistična veda

V študiji Auriol, Friebel & Wilhelm (2019) ugotavljajo, da kljub temu, da so približno tretjino doktoratov znanosti iz ekonomije v ZDA v zadnjih nekaj desetletjih naredile ženske, je bilo leta 2017 manj kot 15% rednih profesorjev v ZDA ženskega spola. Ugotavlja, da imajo evropske države v primerjavi z ZDA sicer večji delež rednih profesoric v svojih raziskovalnih institucijah (čez 20%), vendar so stopnje napredovanja primerljive na obeh straneh Atlantika. V Evropi obstajajo precejšnje razlike, saj so nordijske države in Francija na področju enakosti spolov dosegle veliko več kot na primer Nemčija in Nizozemska.

Zanimivo pa je predvsem to, da imajo boljše univerze (po številu citatov) manjši delež rednih profesorjev ženskega spola. Vendar pa se zgodba ne začne pri procesih napredovanja, ampak že na osnovni ravni – boljše univerze že v osnovi zaposlujejo manjši delež žensk. Zaenkrat ni dobre razlage tega fenomena pri ekonomiji, ki bistveno odstopa tudi od ostalih družboslovnih ved. Ni jasno, ali do tega prihaja, ker se manj ženske odloča za akademski poklic v ekonomiji ali pa so manj uspešne v procesih rekrutiranja zaradi morebiti seksističnih predsodkov izbirnih komisij.

Fenomen seksizma v ekonomiji torej ostaja nepojasnjen. No, vsaj za mojo matično institucijo, ekonomsko fakulteto v Ljubljani, ne bi mogli reči, da je seksistična, saj je spolna struktura zelo izenačena.

Women are under-represented among academic economists. For instance, in 2017, only 13.9% of full professors in the US were women, despite the fact that over the last decades, between 30% and 35% of PhDs in economics have been earned by women (CSWEP 2017). The large gap between the percentage of women holding a PhD and those who are eventually go on to become full professors has been interpreted as evidence of a ‘leaky pipeline’ in which, over the different stages of a career, the attrition of women is higher than that of men (Bayer and Rouse 2016, Lundberg and Stearns 2019).

Table 1 reveals that there a leaky pipeline in Europe, too: from more than 40% at entry level, the share of women falls to 22% at the level of full professor. In comparison to the US, European countries have a higher share of women full professors in their research institutions, but the attrition rate between junior and senior ranks is comparable on both sides of the Atlantic.

Although in all countries, the proportion of female researchers at all levels is much higher than at the full professor level, Figure 1 shows that there are important differences throughout Europe. The Nordic countries and France score much higher on gender equality than, for instance, Germany and the Netherlands. This may partly owe to historical and institutional reasons (the formerly socialist countries, for instance, score particularly highly, possibly because economics was a rather a ‘female’ occupation during socialist times). However, it may also be partly driven by other factors, such as recruitment policies related to the ranking of the research institution, which is next measured through research output from RePEc.

Comparing the top half of the top 300 institutions in terms of research output on Repec with the bottom half, Figure 2 shows that at the full professor level, the better institutions have fewer women researchers. This could be interpreted as evidence of the leaky pipeline.

However, the figure also shows that at the junior (entry) level, the more prestigious research institutions in Europe hire significantly fewer women than the less prominent institutions. The mode for the bottom half of the top 300 research institutions is much higher (around one third) than for the top half (around 15%) for the full professorship level. Surprisingly, the gap is of similar magnitude for the entry level. This suggests that the leaky pipeline is only one part of the story, or that the leaky pipeline may start much earlier than is usually considered (notably, at the transition between graduation and first job). This result that has not been documented in the literature, and it remains to be seen whether the same is true in the US.

In conclusion, the data reveal that in Europe, there is a leaky pipeline. As we show in our paper, a cohort effect explanation cannot explain the current numbers alone. Furthermore, it does not explain why economics is an outlier compared to other social sciences and STEM fields with similar requirements (Ceci et al. 2014). We argue, though, that it may have to be complemented, because higher ranked universities are employing women to a lesser degree than lower ranked universities even at entry level.

How can this be explained? It is hard to believe that women are not as ‘good’ as men when graduating (if anything, they are more successful). Hence, the early difference is likely to be caused by, or during, the process of matching graduates to research institutions. It cannot be excluded that part of this could be driven by unconscious biases against women. Another possibility is that women may tend not to apply for the best academic positions, perhaps because they lack confidence or encouragement by placement officers and their advisors. In fact, letters of recommendation written for individuals applying for academic positions use different adjectives to describe men and women, with adjectives used to describe women viewed more negatively in hiring decisions (Madera et al. 2009, Schmader et al. 2007).

To find out whether this is the case in our profession in Europe, we would need data from the hiring committees of as many research institutions as possible – a hard, but not impossible task.  Another possibility is that women apply but do not get selected by the good research institutions, which again could be tested with such data.

Vir: Auriol, Friebel & Wilhelm, VoxEU

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