Social Science Research Council

To create a research consortium on Gender Equity in Economics that studies and promotes scalable interventions for increasing women’s representation in the economics profession

  • Amount $1,000,168
  • City New York, United States
  • Investigator Anna Harvey
  • Initiative Economic Analysis of Science and Technology (EAST)
  • Year 2022
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Economics

The statistics may not be too surprising, but they are daunting. Although women are better educated than men in general (they receive 55% of all undergraduate degrees), they are severely underrepresented in economics at all levels: undergraduate (only 34%); PhD (35%); and tenure-track positions (22%). Effective interventions to fix this problem are urgently needed, but few reliable ones have been tried, much less tested at scale. Even those policies that have shown promise in small trials (e.g., mentorship programs, study groups, and peer advising) have not yet been widely adopted across large groups of colleges and universities.Anna Harvey, NYU Professor and President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), will launch a "Consortium on Gender Equity in Economics" to identify and support research on practical interventions that, if proven successful, have real potential to be adopted in a wide range of settings. Harvey argues that, given the reward structure in academia, researchers have little incentive to develop, evaluate, or scale interventions that could actually make a big difference, nor are they rewarded for working with university or department leaders who might want to take action but are unsure where to begin.The SSRC will organize this Consortium jointly with the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP). The first part of their plan is to fund original research about scalable interventions for increasing the number of women in economics. The SSRC will issue a call for projects that deploy in the fall of 2023. Criteria for selection will be based, in part, on recent theories about what helps programs scale successfully. It helps, for example, to be simple and inexpensive with costs decreasing as the number of participants increases, and to have been developed with the involvement of decision-makers from the onset.Consistent with aiming for impact, the second part of the project will further engage potential adopters. The plan is to hold a series of convenings designed to foster and facilitate uptake of the research results. Funded teams, along with other experts on gender representation in economics, will run special workshops at annual conferences for college and university leaders. Chairs of the 250 economics departments in the CSWEP Liaison Network will also help promote and implement the Consortium’s evidence about what works. For an academic project, this effort is extraordinarily committed to being more than an academic exercise.

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