Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Does Economics Have a Gender?

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We address the issues raised by commentators on our paper in the symposium “Why few women in economics.” The commentators suggest that economics is gendered, a male subject reflecting basic differences in men’s and women’s life preferences and abilities. We find that, while less schooling in mathematics historically may be related to the relative scarcity of women in economics and the natural sciences, today women’s and men’s mathematical skills are rapidly approaching each other. Experimental economics have found gender differences in preferences in risk taking, competitiveness, and social preferences which may deter women from entering academic fields with an overwhelming majority of men. In addition, the internal academic culture may have developed to adjust to a traditional male lifestyle. Adding everything up, women economists may find their comparative advantage to lie outside the universities.