The Economics Gender Gap

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 1 2012 8:27 AM

The Economics Gender Gap

Here's the kind of gender gap in the economics field that I expect you'd see in just about any profession or discipline in the year 2012:

The biggest disagreement: 76% of women [economists] say faculty opportunities in economics favor men. Male economists point the opposite way: 80% say women are favored or the process is neutral.

Part of the essence of privilege is that it's invisible to the privileged, so this is what you get. But even though I bet male chemists and female chemists have different perceptions of gender dynamics in the chemistry profession, I doubt that there are systematic gender-linked perception gaps in the content of chemistry. But male economists and female economists have systematically different views about economics-related policy topics:

— Health insurance. Female economists thought employers should be required to provide health insurance for full-time workers: 40 percent in favor to 37 percent against, with the rest offering no opinion. By contrast, men were strongly against the idea: 21 percent in favor and 52 percent against
— Education. Females narrowly opposed taxpayer-funded vouchers that parents could use for tuition at a public or private school of their choice. Male economists love the idea: 61 percent to 14 percent.
— Labor standards. Females believe 48 percent to 33 percent that trade policy should be linked to labor standards in foreign counties. Males disagreed: 60 percent to 23 percent.

That's a sign, I think, of the fairly rudimentary state of economics knowledge as well as of the underlying gender dynamics. But there is agreement about a few things. Economists in the survey of all genders agree that the United States spends too much on the military and also "that Wal-Mart is good for society" (which I think is a weird way of putting it but basically correct). 

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.