Although women have reached parity and surpassed men in the attainment of bachelor’s degrees (Goldin et al. J Econ Perspect 20(4): 133–156, 2006; Ceci et al. Psychol Sci Public Interest 15(3): 75–141, 2014), their representation within academic departments and disciplines depends on the field and rank. Here, we review the literature about women in academia, focusing on the evidence from the economics literature, but supplementing it with notable studies from other disciplines. We also examine the special case of the economics profession, where – surprisingly – women’s progress has stagnated.
We start by describing the representation of women in science academia and its antecedents in higher education. Since, in mathematics-intensive sciences, the under-representation has its roots prior to the doctorate, we briefly summarise what is known about gender differences related to mathematics and science at earlier ages. In particular, we examine the impact of role models, bias and stereotype threat in explaining the differences. We then transition to research on gender differences in academic career outcomes, considering issues related to work–life balance and bias in the academic hiring process, in academic productivity, in promotion and in salaries. Finally, we discuss how policies influence the representation of women in academia.
- Division of labour
- Pay gap
- Wage gap
This chapter was originally published in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Online edition, 2016. Edited by Palgrave Macmillan
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Abrevaya, J., and D. Hammermesh. 2012. Charity and favoritism in the field: Are female economists nicer (to each other)? Review of Economics and Statistics 94(1): 202–207.
Addis, E., and P. Villa. 2003. The editorial boards of Italian economics journals: Women, gender, and social networking. Feminist Economics 9(1): 75–91.
Altonji, J., and R. Blank. 1999. Race and gender in the labor market. In Handbook of labor economics 3(C), 3143–259.
Antecol, H., O. Eren, and S. Ozbeklik. 2012. The effect of teacher gender on student achievement in primary school: Evidence from a randomized experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6453.
Antecol, H., K. Bedard, and J. Stearns. 2016. Equal but inequitable: Who benefits from gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies? IZA Discussion Paper No. 9904.
Ashworth, J., and J. Evans. 2001. Modeling student subject choice at secondary and tertiary level: A cross-section study. Journal of Economic Education 32(4): 311–320.
Austen, S. 2004. Gender differences in academic rank in Australian universities. Australian Bulletin of Labor 30(2): 113.
Bagues, M., M. Sylos-Labini, and N. Zinovyeva. 2015. Does the gender composition of scientific committees matter? IZA Discussion Paper No. 9199.
Bansak, C., and M. Starr. 2010. Gender differences in predispositions towards economics. Eastern Economic Journal 36(1): 33.
Barbezat, D. 1987a. Salary differentials or sex discrimination? Evidence from the academic labor market. Population Research and Policy Review 6: 69–84.
Barbezat, D. 1987b. Salary differentials by sex in the academic labor market. Journal of Human Resources 22(3): 443–455.
Barbezat, D., and M. Donihue. 1998. Do faculty salaries rise with job seniority? Economics Letters 58(2): 239–244.
Barbezat, D., and J. Hughes. 2005. Salary structure effects and the gender pay gap in academia. Research in Higher Education 46(6): 621–640.
Bedard, K., and D. Herman. 2008. Who goes to graduate/professional school? The importance of economic fluctuations, undergraduate field, and ability. Economics of Education Review 27(2): 197–210.
Bellas, M., and R. Toutkoushian. 1999. Faculty time allocations and research productivity: Gender, race and family effects. Review of Higher Education 22(4): 367–390.
Bender, K., and J. Heywood. 2006. Job satisfaction of the highly educated: The role of gender, academic tenure, and earnings. Scottish Journal of Political Economy 53(2): 253–279.
Bettinger, E., and B. Long. 2005. Do faculty serve as role models? The impact of instructor gender on female students. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 95(2): 152–157.
Binder, M., K. Krause, J. Chermak, J. Thacher, and J. Gilroy. 2010. Same work, different pay? Evidence from a US public university. Feminist Economics 16(4): 105–135.
Blackaby, D., A. Booth, and J. Frank. 2005. Outside offers and the gender pay gap: Empirical evidence from the UK academic labor market. Economic Journal 115: F81–F107.
Blank, R. 1996. Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. American Economic Review 86(2): 502–506.
Blau, F., J. Currie, R. Croson, and D. Ginther. 2010. Can mentoring help female assistant professors? Interim results from a randomized trial. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 100(2): 348–352.
Bohnet, I., A. Van Geen, and M. Bazerman. 2015. When performance trumps gender bias: Joint vs. separate evaluation. Management Science 62(5): 1225–1234.
Borrego, A., M. Barrios, A. Villarroya, and C. Ollé. 2010. Scientific output and impact of postdoctoral scientists: A gender perspective. Scientometrics 83(1): 93–101.
Boschini, A., and A. Sjogren. 2007. Is team formation gender neutral? Evidence from coauthorship patterns. Journal of Labor Economics 25(2): 325–365.
Bosquet, C., P. Combes, and C. Garcia-Penalosa. 2014. Gender and promotions: Evidence from academic economists in France. LIEPP Working Paper No. 29.
Bratsberg, B., J. Ragan, and J. Warren. 2010. Does raiding explain the negative returns to faculty seniority? Economic Inquiry 48(3): 704.
Breda, T., and M. Hillion. 2016. Teaching accreditation exams reveal grading biases favor women in male-dominated disciplines in France. Science 353(6298): 474–478.
Broder, I. 1993. Professional achievements and gender differences among academic economists. Economic Inquiry 31: 116–127.
Brown, B.W., and S.A. Woodbury. 1998. Seniority, external labor markets, and faculty pay. Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance 38(4): 771–798.
Butler, D., and R. Butler. 2011. The Internet’s effect on women’s coauthoring rates and academic job market decisions: The case of political science. Economics of Education Review 30: 665–672.
Cainelli, G., M. Maggioni, T. Uberti, and A. de Felice. 2012. Co-authorship and productivity among Italian economists. Applied Economics Letters 19: 1609–1613.
Cainelli, G., M. Maggioni, T. Uberti, and A. de Felice. 2015. The strength of strong ties: How co-authorship affect productivity of academic economists? Scientometrics 102(1): 673.
Canes, B., and H. Rosen. 1995. Following in her footsteps? Faculty gender composition and women’s choice of college majors. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 48(3): 486–504.
Carlin, P., M. Kidd, P. Rooney, and B. Denton. 2013. Academic wage structure by gender: The roles of peer review, performance, and market forces. Southern Economic Journal 80(1): 127–146.
Carlsson, F., A. Lofgren, and T. Sterner. 2012. Discrimination in scientific review: A natural field experiment on blind versus non-blind reviews. Scandinavian Journal of Economics 114(2): 500–519.
Carnes, M., P. Devine, L. Manwell, A. Byars-Winston, E. Fine, C. Ford, P. Forscher, C. Isaac, A. Kaatz, W. Magua, M. Palta, and J. Sheridan. 2015. Effect of an intervention to break the gender bias habit: A cluster randomized, controlled trial. Academic Medicine 90(2): 221–230.
Carrell, S.E., M.E. Page, and J.E. West. 2010. Sex and science: How professor gender perpetuates the gender gap. Quarterly Journal of Economics 125(3): 1101–1144.
Ceci, S.J., D.K. Ginther, S. Kahn, and W.M. Williams. 2014. Women in academic science: A changing landscape. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 15(3): 75–141.
Chen, J., Q. Liu, and S. Billger. 2012. Where do new Ph.D. Economists go? Evidence from recent initial job placements. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6990.
Chiswick, B., N. Larsen, and P. Pieper. 2010. The production of PhDs in the United States and Canada. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5367.
Conley, J., A. Onder, and B. Torgler. 2016. Are all economics graduate cohorts created equal? Gender, job openings, and research productivity. Scientometrics 108(2): 937–958.
Cooray, A., R. Verma, and L. Wright. 2014. Does a gender disparity exist in academic rank? Evidence from an Australian university. Applied Economics 46(20): 2441–2451.
Cotton, C., F. McIntyre, and J. Price. 2013. Gender differences in repeated competition: Evidence from school math contests. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 86: 52.
Danell, R., and M. Hjerm. 2013. Career prospects for female university researchers have not improved. Scientometrics 94(3): 999–1006.
De Paola, M., M. Ponzo, and V. Scoppa. 2015. Gender differences in attitudes towards competition: Evidence from the Italian scientific qualification. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8859.
De Paola, M., M. Ponzo, and V. Scoppa. 2016. Are men given priority for top jobs? Investigating the glass ceiling in the Italian academia. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9658.
Dee, T. 2005. A teacher like me: Does race, ethnicity, or gender matter? American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 95(2): 158–165.
Dee, T. 2007. Teachers and the gender gaps in student achievement. Journal of Human Resources 42(3): 528–554.
Ding, W., S. Levin, P. Stephan, and A. Winkler. 2010. The impact of information technology on academic scientists’ productivity and collaboration patterns. Management Science 56(9): 1439–1461.
Dobbin, F., D. Schrage, and A. Kalev. 2012. Stuck in neutral: Consequences of bureaucratic equal opportunity innovations. Working Paper, Department of Sociology, Harvard University.
Dolado, J., F. Felgueroso, and M. Alumina. 2012. Are men and women-economists evenly distributed across research fields? Some new empirical evidence. SERIEs 3: 367–393. doi:10.1007/s13209-011-0065-4.
Donald, S., and D. Hamermesh. 2006. What is discrimination? Gender in the american economic association. American Economic Review 96(4): 1283–1292.
Duch, J., X. Zeng, M. Sales-Pardo, F. Radicchi, S. Otis, T. Woodruff, and L. Amaral. 2012. The possible role of resource requirements and academic career-choice risk on gender differences in publication rate and impact. PloS One 7(12), E51332.
Ehrenberg, R., D. Goldhaber, and D. Brewer. 1995. Do teachers’ race, gender, and ethnicity matter? Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 48(3): 547–561.
Ehrenberg, R., G. Jakubson, M. Martin, J. Main, and T. Eisenberg. 2012. Diversifying the faculty across gender lines: Do trustees and administrators matter? Economics of Education Review 31: 9–18.
Ellison, G., and A. Swanson. 2010. The gender gap in secondary school mathematics at high achievement levels: Evidence from the American mathematics competitions. Journal of Economic Perspectives 24(2): 109–128.
Else-Quest, N.M., J.S. Hyde, and M.C. Linn. 2010. Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin 136: 103–127.
Euwals, R., and M. Ward. 2005. What matters most: Teaching or research? Empirical evidence on the remuneration of British academics. Applied Economics 37: 1655–1672.
Ferber, M.A., and B. Kordick. 1978. Sex differences in the earnings of Ph.D.s. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 31(2): 227–38.
Ginther, D. 2004. Why women earn less: Economic explanations for the gender salary gap in science. AWIS Magazine 33(1): 6–10.
Ginther, D., and K. Hayes. 1999. Salary and promotion differentials by gender for faculty in the humanities. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 89(2): 397–402.
Ginther, D., and K. Hayes. 2003. Gender differences in salary and promotion for faculty in the humanities, 1977–1995. Journal of Human Resources 38(1): 34–73.
Ginther, D., and S. Kahn. 2004. Women in economics: Moving up or falling off the academic career ladder? Journal of Economic Perspectives 18(3): 193–214.
Ginther, D., and S. Kahn. 2009. Does science promote women? Evidence from academia 1973–2001. In Science and engineering careers in the United States, ed. R.B. Freeman and D.F. Goroff. Chicago: University of Chicago Press for NBER.
Ginther, D., and S. Kahn. 2015. Comment on “Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines”. Science 349(6246): 391.
Ginther, D., S. Kahn, and W. Schaffer. 2016. Gender, race/ethnicity, and national institutes of health R01 research awards: Is there evidence of a double bind for women of color? Academic Medicine 91(8): 1098–1107.
Goldin, C., L. Katz, and I. Kuziemko. 2006. The homecoming of American college women: The reversal of the college gender gap. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20(4): 133–156.
Gordon, N., T. Morton, and I. Braden. 1974. Faculty salaries: Is there discrimination by sex, race, and discipline? American Economic Review 64(3): 419–427.
Griffith, A. 2014. Faculty gender in the college classroom: Does it matter for achievement and major choice? Southern Economic Journal 81(1): 211–231.
Groeneveld, S., K. Tijdens, and D. van Kleef. 2012. Gender differences in academic careers: Evidence for a Dutch university from personnel data 1990–2006. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 31(7): 646–662.
Hale, G., and T. Regev. 2014. Gender ratios at top PhD programs in economics. Economics of Education Review 41: 55–70.
Hallock, K. 1995. Seniority and monopsony in the academic labor market: comment. American Economic Review 85(3): 654–657.
Hamermesh, D. 2013. Six decades of top economics publishing: Who and how? Journal of Economic Literature 51(1): 162–172.
Harter, C., W. Becker, and M. Watts. 2010. Time allocations and reward structures for US academic economists from 1995–2005: Evidence from three national surveys. International Review of Economics Education 10(2): 6–27.
Hilmer, C., and M. Hilmer. 2007. Women helping women, men helping women? Same-gender mentoring, initial job placements, and early career publishing success for economics PhDs. American Economic Review 97(2): 422–426.
Hilmer, C., and M. Hilmer. 2010. Are there gender differences in the job mobility patterns of academic economists? American Economic Review 100(2): 353–357.
Hilmer, C., M. Hilmer, and M. Ransom. 2012. Fame and the fortune of academic economists: How the market rewards influential research in economics. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6960.
Hoffman, F., and P. Oreopoulos. 2009. A professor like me. The influence of instructor gender on college achievement. Journal of Human Resources 44(2): 479–494.
Hyde, J.S., and J. Mertz. 2009. Gender, culture, and mathematics performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106: 8801–8809.
Joecks, J., K. Pull, and U. Backes-Gellner. 2014. Childbearing and (female) research productivity: A personnel economics perspective on the leaky pipeline. Journal of Business Economics 84: 517–530.
Kahn, S. 1993. Gender differences in academic career paths of economists. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings 83(2): 52–56.
Kahn, S. 1995. Women in the economics profession. Journal of Economic Perspectives 9(4): 193–205.
Kahn, S. 2012. Gender differences in academic promotion and mobility at a major Australian university. Economic Record 88: 407.
Kahn, S., and D. K. Ginther. 2016. Accounting for the gender pay gap in STEM salaries. Mimeo/Boston University.
Kalev, A., F. Dobbin, and E. Kelly. 2006. Best practices or best guesses? Assessing the efficacy of corporate affirmative action and diversity policies. American Sociological Review 71: 589–617.
Kaszubowski, M., and J. Wolszczak-Derlacz. 2014. Salary and reservation wage gender gaps in Polish academia. GUT Faculty of Management and Economics Working Paper Series A, No. 1 (19).
Krapf, M., H. Ursprung, and C. Zimmermann. 2014. Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: Evidence from the groves of academe. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7904.
Krause, A., U. Rinne, and K. Zimmermann. 2012. Anonymous job applications of fresh Ph.D. Economists. Economics Letters 117(2): 441–444.
Landaud, F., S.-T. Ly, and E. Maurin. 2016. Competitive schools and the gender gap in the choice of field of study. CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11411. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2814086.
Lavy, V., and E. Sand. 2015. On the origins of gender human capital gaps: Short and long term consequences of teachers’ stereotypical biases. NBER Working Paper 20909.
Leslie, S., A. Cimpian, M. Meyer, and E. Freeland. 2015. Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines. Science 347(6219): 262.
Lewis, M., and K. McGoldrick. 2001. Moving beyond the masculine neoclassical classroom. Feminist Economics 7(2): 91–103.
Ley, T., and B. Hamilton. 2008. The gender gap in NIH grant applications. Science 322(5907): 1472–1474.
Lissoni, F., J. Mairesse, F. Montobbio, and M. Pezzoni. 2011. Scientific productivity and academic promotion: A study on French and Italian physicists. Industrial and Corporate Change 20(1): 253–294.
Manchester, C., and D. Barbezat. 2013. The effect of time use in explaining male–female productivity differences among economists. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society 52(1): 53–77.
Manchester, C., L. Leslie, and A. Kramer. 2010. Stop the clock policies and career success in academia. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 100: 219–223.
Manchester, C., L. Leslie, and A. Kramer. 2013. Is the clock still ticking? An evaluation of the consequences of stopping the tenure clock. ILR Review 66(1): 3–31.
Maske, K., G. Durden, and P. Gaynor. 2003. Determinants of scholarly productivity among male and female economists. Economic Inquiry 41(4): 555–564.
McDowell, J.M., and K. Smith. 1992. The effect of gender sorting on propensity to coauthor: Implications for academic promotion. Economic Inquiry 30(1): 68–82.
McDowell, J., L. Singell Jr., and J. Ziliak. 1999. Cracks in the glass ceiling: Gender and promotion in the economics profession. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 89(2): 397–402.
McDowell, J., L. Singell Jr., and J. Ziliak. 2001. Gender and promotion in the economics profession. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 54(2): 224–244.
McDowell, J., L. Singell Jr., and M. Slater. 2006. Two to tango? Gender differences in the joint decision to publish and coauthor. Economic Inquiry 44(1): 153–168.
McGoldrick, K., and P. Schuhmann. 2002. Instructor gender and student registration: An analysis of preferences. Education Economics 10(3): 241–260.
Mixon, F., and L. Trevino. 2005. Is there gender discrimination in named professorships? An econometric analysis of economics departments in the US South. Applied Economics 37: 849–854.
Moss-Racusin, C., J. Dovidio, V. Brescoll, M. Graham, and J. Handelsman. 2012. Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. PNAS 109(41): 16474–16479.
National Research Council 2010. Gender differences at critical transitions in the careers of science, engineering, and mathematics faculty. Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty; Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine; Committee on National Statistics; Policy and Global Affairs; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Research Council.
Niederle, M., and L. Vesterlund. 2010. Explaining the gender gap in math test scores: The role of competition. Journal of Economic Perspectives 24(2): 129–144.
Penner, A.M. 2008. Gender differences in extreme mathematical achievement: An international perspective on biological and social factors. American Journal of Sociology 114: 138–170.
Pope, D., and J. Sydnor. 2010. Geographic variation in the gender differences in test scores. Journal of Economic Perspectives 24(2): 95–108.
Ransom, M. 1993. Seniority and monopsony in the academic labor market. American Economic Review 83(1): 221.
Rask, K., and E. Bailey. 2002. Are faculty role models? Evidence from major choice in an undergraduate institution. Journal of Economic Education 33(2): 99–124.
Robinson, M., and J. Monks. 1999. Gender differences in earnings among economics and business faculty. Economics Letters 63(1): 119–125.
Sabatier, M. 2010. Do female researchers face a glass ceiling in France? A hazard model of promotions. Applied Economics 42(16): 2053–2062.
Schulze, G., S. Warning, and C. Wiermann. 2008. What and how long does it take to get tenure? The case of economics and business administration in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. German Economic Review 9(4): 473–505.
Sege, R., N. Nykiel-Bub, and S. Selk. 2015. Sex difference in institutional support for junior biomedical researchers. Journal of the American Medical Association 314(11): 1175–1177.
Takahashi, A., and S. Takahashi. 2015. Gender promotion differences in economics departments in Japan: A duration analysis. Journal of Asian Economics 41: 1–19.
Taylor, S., B. Fender, and K. Burke. 2006. Unraveling the academic productivity of economists: The opportunity costs of teaching and service. Southern Economic Journal 72(4): 846–859.
Toumanoff, P. 2005. The effects of gender on salary-at-hire in the academic labor market. Economics of Education Review 24: 179–188.
Toutkoushian, R., M. Bellas, and J. Moore. 2007. The interaction effects of gender, race, and marital status on faculty salaries. Journal of Higher Education 78(5): 572–601.
Wai, J., M. Cacchio, M. Putallaz, and M. Makel. 2010. Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: A thirty year examination. Intelligence 38: 412–423. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2010.04.006.
Ward, M. 2001a. The gender salary gap in British academia. Applied Economics 33(13): 1669–1681.
Ward, M. 2001b. Gender and promotion in the academic profession. Scottish Journal of Political Economy 48(3): 283–302.
Ward, M., and P. Sloane. 2000. Non-pecuniary advantages versus pecuniary disadvantages; Job satisfaction among male and female academics in Scottish universities. Scottish Journal of Political Economy 47(3): 273.
Warman, C., F. Woolley, and C. Worswick. 2010. The evolution of male–female earnings differentials in Canadian universities, 1970–2001. Canadian Journal of Economics-Revue Canadienne D’Economique 43(1): 347–372.
Williams, W., and S. Ceci. 2015. National hiring experiment reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(17): 5360–5365.
Wolfinger, N.H., M.A. Mason, and M. Goulden. 2008. Problems in the pipeline: Gender, marriage, fertility and the ivory tower. Journal of Higher Education 79(4): 388–405.
Zinovyeva, N., and, M. Bagues. 2011. Does gender matter for academic promotion? Evidence from a randomized natural experiment. IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2016 The Author(s)
About this entry
Cite this entry
Ginther, D.K., Kahn, S., McCloskey, J. (2016). Gender and Academics. In: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95121-5_3039-1
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London
Online ISBN: 978-1-349-95121-5
eBook Packages: Springer Reference Economics and FinanceReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences