Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

“Barriers to Diversity and Pluralism in Economics Research”: A STOREP session at the 32nd IAFFE Conference


Barriers to Diversity and Pluralism in Economics Research

Amanda Bayer and Cecilia Elena Rouse in 2016 concluded their overview on the underrepresented minority groups in the profession stating that the “field of economics is behind others in its progress on diversity concerns” (p. 238). Since then, several papers have documented how the economics profession lacks diversity mainly on two levels: first, heterogeneity of researchers, and second, pluralism of economic ideas. The session organized by STOREP aims to discuss new evidence of the importance of diversity in economics that looks at different perspectives and uses different analysis methods.

Barriers to Diversity and Pluralism in Economics Research


Friday, 5 July – Sapienza University of Rome
8:30 am DSS: Aula 14

Who are The Gatekeepers of Economics? Geographic Diversity, Gender Composition, and Interlocking Editorship of Journals Boards
Cristina Re & Alberto Baccini

Textual Analysis for Reading Economics in a Gender Perspective: The Case
of the American Economic Review
Angela Ambrosino

Is Economics What Women Economists Do? Gender Differences in Field of Research among Top Economists
Giulia Zacchia & Izaskun Zuazu

Naming Feminist Economics: An Analysis of JEL Codes
Gunseli Berik


Paper #1
– Abstract: This study investigates the role of editorial board members as gatekeepers in science, creating and utilizing a database of 1,516 active economics journals in 2019, which includes more than 44,000 scholars from over 6,000 institutions and 142 countries. The composition of these editorial boards is explored in terms of geographic affiliation, institutional affiliation, and gender. Results highlight that the academic publishing environment is primarily governed by men affiliated with elite universities in the United States. The study further explores social similarities among journals using a network analysis perspective based on interlocking editorship. Comparison of networks generated by all scholars, editorial leaders, and non-editorial leaders reveals significant structural similarities and associations among clusters of journals. These results indicate that links between pairs of journals tend to be redundant, and this can be interpreted in terms of social and intellectual homophily within each board, and between boards of journals belonging to the same cluster. Finally, the analysis of the most central journals and scholars in the networks suggests that journals probably adopt ‘strategic decisions’ in the selection of the editorial board
members. The documented high concentration of editorial power poses a serious risk to innovative
research in economics.

Paper #2
– Abstract: The paper aimed to investigate economics as a discipline from a gender perspective by applying textual analysis and Natural language processing (NLP) to academic papers. Particularly we will focus on publications in the American Economic Review from its first issue in 1911 until 2023. This project aims to shed light on gender disparities in the field, particularly in terms of research output and publication rates. Gender gap in publications in economics is an ongoing issue in the discipline (Ginther and Kahan 2004, 2009; Blau et al. 2010; Sarson 2017; Sarson et al. 2021), and it paves the way for investigating issues such as disparities in publication rates, publication gap across subfields of economics, differences in career stage, biases in peer review processes, and many more. One critical step in text analysis from a gender perspective is the need to proceed with information extraction techniques to identify the authors’ gender within the data set. Different Application Programming Interface (API) based on name or facial recognition (DetermineGender; Gender Guesser,; Gender API, etc.) are used to identify and categorize gender-specific entities; nevertheless,
each of them shows different levels of inaccuracy in predicting authors’ gender. This paper aims to contribute to the field by developing a new API to automatically compare and implement the results of today’s different existing tools and other applications for enabling the integration of different software systems, services, open datasets, and platforms to detect other indicators of gender gap in publications. Such techniques allow us to investigate the whole corpus of the American Economic Review papers in order to discuss the role of female economists in the development of the journal and highlight differences in publication rates, publication gap across subfields of economics, and many more.

Paper #3
– Abstract: More than 20 years ago, Backhouse, Middleton and Tribe (1997), providing excellent research on ‘what economists do’, made a plea for more quantitative analysis of economists’ publications. While an extensive body of work on trends in publications and development of different networks of economists have been produced, a smaller effort has been devoted to identifying the gender dynamics of these processes. The paper contributes to the growing, although still scarce, literature on the gender dynamics of the research production in economics. We provide a systematic empirical analysis of the field of research of women and men top economists. For this paper, we constructed a unique database with information on authors ranked within the top 10% economists, since 1980’s to nowadays. Our primarily source of data is Research Papers in Economics (RePEc). From this database, we first describe the evolution of the
distribution of women and men, separately, in fields of research, using a broad classification of seven fields (i.e. microeconomics, macroeconomics/finance, industrial organization, environmental economics, labour/public economics, history/development economics, and others) over time. We identify three patterns which are worth-noting: i) there is a stationary male dominance of microeconomics and macroeconomics/finance, ii) women have reduced their representation in labour/public economics, and iii) women have shifted towards more male-dominated fields, such as macroeconomics/finance and microeconomics. Secondly, we compute an index of gender segregation (i.e. Duncan and Duncan index of dissimilarity) by field of research, identifying economists with their most used JEL codes. The index computed confirms that gender segregation by field of research among top economists has decreased from
1980 to recent years from 37% to 10%. This reduction in segregation can be attributed to women top economist changing their field of research, rather than men top economists changing theirs. The contribution of the paper is twofold. First, this paper studies provides the first systematic review of the gender composition across field of research among top economists and provides the temporal evolution since 1980. Second, the paper identifies different reasons behind such level and patterns of gender segregation. We believe that this type of research is the first step in the direction of conceiving economic research as a social activity imbued with power dynamics deeply gendered.

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