Does Economics Make You Sexist?

That is the title of a new paper by Valentina Paredes, M. Daniele Paserman, and Francisco J. Pino, to be presented at the forthcoming AEA meetings:

Recent research has highlighted unequal treatment for women in academic economics along several different dimensions: promotion, hiring, credit for co-authorship, and standards for publication in professional journals. Can the source of these differences lie in biases against women that are pervasive in the discipline, even among students in the earliest stages of their training? In this paper, we provide direct evidence on the importance of explicit and implicit biases against women among students in economics relative to other fields. We conducted a large scale survey among undergraduate students in Chilean universities, among both entering first-year students and upperclassmen. The survey elicits measures of implicit bias, explicit bias, and gender attitudes. We document that, on a wide battery of measures, economics students are more biased than students in other fields. There is some evidence that economics freshmen are more biased already upon entry, before exposure to any economic classes. The gap becomes substantially more pronounced among upperclassmen, in particular for male students. We find evidence of an increase in bias in a limited sample of students that we can follow longitudinally. A significant part of the gap between economics and non-economics students can be explained by differential exposure to female professors.

Work through here is the top link is failing you.  I would note by the way that gender relations in Chile have a reputation for being especially…bifurcated.


Yes in the sense that everything makes you sexist. No in that it doesn't make you more sexist than anything else.

The paper itself and the author are sexist. There is no other reason to write such a thing except sexism.

“Limited sample” ... Why won’t Tyler stop trolling us ?

..."can be explained by differential exposure to female professors."

We know where this narrative is going.

Nor is it surprising that the survey questions fit that little narrative.

From the paper, on how they constructed measures of sexism:

> We measured implicit bias using the gender-career and gender-science versions of the Implicit Association Test (IAT, Greenwald, McGhee,and Schwartz, 1998)...

Problem: the IAT is probably bullshit. See

They then describe how they constructed other measures of sexism:

> To measure explicit bias, we administered a shortened version of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (ASI, Glick and Fiske, 1996), which distinguishes between hostile and benevolent sexism. We also asked students a battery ofquestions on gender attitudes (similar to those asked in the World Values Survey), and be-liefs about gender differences in mathematical ability. Finally, we asked students to assess the importance of various factors (including discrimination and differences in preferences and skills) for explaining the gender pay gap. The rationale for these questions is that individuals with more traditional gender attitudes are less likely to attribute gender differ-ences in labor market outcomes to discrimination, and more likely to rationalize these gaps with differences in skills and preferences (human capital, risk aversion, competitiveness,preference for work-life balance).Based on the answers to these questions, we constructed five additional measures of gender bias. Based on the pilot, we used a cluster latent variable analysis (Vigneau andQannari, 2003) to group the remaining variables into the following categories: i) traditional gender roles, measuring the extent to which respondents agree with statements that women working outside of the home have a negative effect on family life; ii) proactive (or normative)gender roles, measuring the extent to which respondents agree that society should change to promote gender equality; iii) beliefs about gender differences in mathematical ability;iv) beliefs that the gender pay gap is due to discrimination; and v) beliefs that the gender pay gap is due to differences in skills and preferences

So literally, sexism = being insufficiently woke. You think differences in preferences explain the gender pay gap, you're sexist. You think there are differences in mean or variance of mathematical ability between mean and women, then you're sexist. Ugh...

So you're sexist if you believe that the empirical evidence shows that gender pay gaps are mostly a result of career choices, employment gaps, and preferences for part-time work? And if you do not agree that 'society' (presumably meaning the state) should actively promote gender equality? Or, in short, if you're not a leftist, then by definition you're a sexist? Sheesh.

you don't have to reach too hard for the pro-economics-student interpretation of this post

> Finally, we asked students to assess the importance of various factors ... for explaining the gender pay gap ... individuals with more traditional gender attitudes are less likely to attribute gender differ-ences in labor market outcomes to discrimination, and more likely to rationalize these gaps with differences in skills and preferences (human capital, risk aversion, competitiveness,preference for work-life balance).

Statistics is a social construct created by straight white men in order to marginalize women and minorities!

I always love these "ask students to assess the importance of [insert subset of variables affecting complex social phenomenon here]". First, they're students; they are there to learn. We can presume, therefore, that while they are likely to be more informed than, say, a mason or plumber on this topic, we can also presume that they are not experts on it. Second, these always presume that there is a right way to answer these questions--and that any deviation from The One True Answer is inherently wrong. The reality is that complex problems often--probably always--have a myriad of causes, outcomes, and expressions. This one is particularly bad, using egregiously loaded language ("rationalize"?!).

That's leaving aside small sample size, selection biases in who gives a response, and all the other issues involved.

lol, so knowing economics = being sexist, and shockingly people become more "sexist" as they learn more economics!

Well, this may be a particular case of the more generalized:

Knowing anything = being sexist.

Does it surprise anyone?

A national hiring experiment showed that male economists were the most hostile to hiring women of any of the professors they studied.

This is not what the study at all...

While it's a completely misleading summary of the study results, it is true that's EXACTLY what the study says. They studied STEM hiring and everyone but economists showed a preference for hiring women. Economists showed no gender bias at all. Thus they were "the most hostile" of those studied.

Male economists showed no hiring bias towards women but female economists presumably did show pro female hiring bias.

In what basis do you presume that?

Does Knowing Betteridge's Law Of Headlines Make You Write Better Headlines?

No, but only if you know the true purpose of headlines.

Given that all economists are Chilean teenagers, the argument holds.

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I wondered about the inherent gender bias of Chileans in particular (Latins in general), but I assume the bias in economics is being measured against the biases in other disciplines in Chile. Differential exposure to female professors is the logical explanation. I cannot remember a single female economics professor in the large economics department of the public university I attended. Sure, that was a long time ago, but there had to be female candidates. And I don't recall giving the matter any thought, or that I even noticed at the time (I was an economics major). I don't believe (but I don't know) that the bias can be explained simply by inadequate exposure to female professors. There's something about economics that seems particularly appealing to males, captured in econ 101 and econ 102, the simplicity of a complex subject that is really about human behavior but reduced to mathematical precision. It's not a coincidence that behavioral economics has grown as the number of females in economics has grown. [Not a perfect comparison, but I recall my first year in law school in which accounting and math majors (almost all male) underperformed while history and similar majors (many female) overperformed, the former expecting to learn (or memorize) a bunch of clearly defined laws only to discover that the law is ambiguous at best. Females really do appreciate 50 shades of grey.]

Since most of us have experienced variations in the quality of our professors, it seems odd to assume that exposure to female professors will automatically shift one's assessment of females in the profession in a positive direction. I also wonder to what extent the reported increase in sexism related to economics among upperclassmen is based on years of observing male and female economics students.

Looked at the tables at the end of the paper (ugh... Why is that the norm), and there really doesn't appear to be much evidence for the claim. Many differences are not significant. The authors try to trick you by putting stars on coefficients that have p values above .05 and below .1. And those differences that ate "significant" have p values that are hovering right around .05.

It's the norm for editing purposes. It's easier for editors (and most non-technical readers) to have the tables in the back, because text pages are of consistent size. Tables, in contrast, can range from tiny to monstrous 167-page nightmares. Makes it hard to draft the report in Word, and breaks up the flow. So a lot of companies are starting to put the tables and figures (which have similar problems) in the back, either of the chapters/sections or of the entire report.

Makes writing the reports easier, too. You can have one file for text, one for tables, and another for figures. With multi-monitor layouts being the norm, this means you can easily cross-reference between them.

Okay, done geeking out over report editing now!

A group which revels in the quantitatively rational is wary of another group associated with the emotional and intuitive. Should anyone actually be surprised?

But isn't the "quantitaively rational" group being "emotional and intuitive" if and when it is "wary" of an entire group based on an "association" ? After all, isn't the quantitatively rational thing to do to recognize that not all members of the other group are, in fact, "emotional and intuitive" and that those assocations are just averages and individuals deviate? So maybe the "quantitatively rational" group is not as quantitative, or rational, as it likes to think it is?


So the answer to your question is yes?

I thought my first sentence above was a neat little package, which Hazel unwraps correctly.

We should not be "surprised," because these are human beings we are talking about.

Exactly. If taken literally the "quantitatively rational" people should be living up to their image as autistic robots. Not indulging in various emotionally driven biases.

You’re all under arrest for not reading the study. Additionally you’re being charged with not bothering to inquire as to how “sexism” was measured.

You might be violating another rule, not to treat one study as the universe, but to add it to your existing model of the world.

For what it's worth, I think the authors are onto something here:

"We also plan to study heterogeneous effects by socioeconomic background, mother’s education and mother’s working status"

But to be fair, the same could be said of dads. That is if yours was over-emotional, and blogging about the "Presidential Harassment" inflicted upon him, or whatever, you might have lower expectations for men.

You’re under arrest for posting in an economics blog without understanding math, science, confidence intervals, or basic logic.

Additional charges for having absolutely no idea how science, math, economics, regression analysis, ordinary least squares, or literally Fucking addition work.

You’re under suspicion for never having passed any basic math course. Please provide evidence for Linear Algebra or Diff Eq, or we can safely assume you’re literally retarded.

I think we will just label you a ham, chewing the scenery.

Give it up.

Looks like the study begs the question.

Chile? population: 17.6 million; ranking on women's equality: 46 (out of 80 ranked (US ranks 16th)). Yawn.

Of note, El Poder Feminino, and their trole in fighting the socialism of Allende in Chile:

Recent research has highlighted unequal treatment for women in academic economics along several different dimensions: promotion, hiring, credit for co-authorship, and standards for publication in professional journals.

Non ci credo.

look its Susie Dent
no its Rachel Riley
no its the biologist Heather Heyig

Whyvis it sexisn? Surely they mean genderism.

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