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Women Are Missing at Central Banks


Outright discrimination is one obvious cause. Laura Hospido, an economist at the Bank of Spain, presented research she did with Carlos Sanz, also from the Spanish central bank, showing that economic papers by women are less likely to be accepted for publication than papers by men.

Deepa D. Datta, an economist at the Fed, examined 3,000 research papers published by the American central bank and found that men were more likely to collaborate with other men on research. Ms. Datta said her study, conducted with Robert Vigfusson of the Fed, didn’t prove that discrimination was at play, though that was an obvious implication. Publishing papers is crucial to career advancement in economics.

Economics is a highly competitive, often unfriendly profession — especially if you’re a woman, according to research presented by Alicia Modestino, an associate professor at Northeastern University.

She, along with Pascaline Dupas and Muriel Niederle of Stanford University and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan, dispatched more than 90 student researchers to economics seminars at leading universities. Armed with a special iPad app, the students secretly tallied the interactions. Women speakers were more likely to be interrupted during the seminar and to face hostile questioning, according to the research.

Numerous speakers said more needs to be done to encourage women to study economics. That is especially a problem for racial minorities, whose problems don’t get enough attention, said Rhonda Sharpe, president of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race in Mechanicsville, Va. Only a handful of African-American, Hispanic or Native American women earn economics doctorates, she said.

“The bulk of the conversation centers on white women,” Ms. Sharpe said during a panel discussion.

Ghazala Azmat of Sciences Po, an elite university in Paris, presented research which analyzed advancement at American law firms and was implicitly applicable to any highly competitive profession. Although women joined law firms at the same rate as men, according to the research, they were much less likely to become partners.

One reason was that they became discouraged by negative experiences early in their careers, including sexual harassment. Women who reported being harassed were much less likely to make partner, according to the research conducted with Vicente Cu├▒at of the London School of Economics and Emeric Henry of Sciences Po.


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