Greater gender parity in economics suggests we should reform tenure systems

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, the set-up is that the tenure clock and child-bearing plans do not exactly mesh well.  Here is my primary recommendation:

Imagine a greater variety of academic jobs, in areas that are not always valued highly by peer review. They might include jobs devoted to producing policy work, to teaching, to producing materials for online education, and to bringing the lessons of academia to broader audiences, such as through blogs and opinion columns. Furthermore, “up or out” provisions could be weakened, so if an individual didn’t succeed on a research track, but excelled in other areas, employment could be continued with different achievement criteria…Schools could keep some tenured jobs while elevating the quality of these other options.

Here is an interlude:

For all the jawboning about limiting discrimination, without adding good jobs on a significant scale, academia won’t get very far in addressing its imbalances.

Here is the clincher:

I have been struck by the course of debate in the economics profession over the last week, as much (deserved) Twitter ire has been directed at one particular online economics forum with anonymous and frequently misogynistic postings. Such forums probably discourage and demoralize women in the economics profession. But the general consensus among the forum’s critics is that those anonymous posters are the “losers” of the profession, not the deans, departmental chairs and Nobel laureates.

In other words, leading economists have spent a whole week “punching down” at those who are not in charge. I’ve hardly seen any critical self-examination about how the leaders, and the incentives they have created and supported, might also be at fault.



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